I’ve decided to do something a little bit different. Each month I plan to list out the books I started but, for whatever reason, declined to finish. The experience of reading a book is more than simply the text of the page and how the author presents the story. The experience is also about who the reader is and what the reader brings to the book. More than simply the reader’s previous reading experience and personal preferences, when the reader gets a hold of the book has a lot to do with the enjoyment of, and the appreciation of a book.
The Darkness that Comes Before - R. Scott Bakker: I don’t know if it was the odd names, or the fact that over the course of the first two hundred pages I had no sense of the story, but I renewed this book all three times allowed (9 weeks checked out from the library), checked the book out again, renewed the book twice more (6 weeks) and over the course of just shy of 4 months I had to force myself to pick up the book and force myself to even read 200 pages. I probably would not have read even that many if I did not have an oil change and have to wait at the dealership. I know this is a well regarded book and series, and one I hoped would be the next big fantasy series I would get into, but I’m not sure I care enough to try again anytime in the next two years.
Dreadful Skin - Cherie Priest: This is the one book of the three which I started out enjoying and was engaged during the first thirty pages. Dreadful Skin was something I wanted to read and wanted to enjoy, and for the first thirty pages I did. But then things were busy and when I picked up the book again I couldn’t find that thread which pulled me through those first character introductions. In a sense this is the biggest disappointment of January for me because I loved Cherie Priest’s first novel (Four and Twenty Blackbirds) and I just finished her second (Wings to the Kingdom) and it was even better, but Dreadful Skin suffered from the timing of when I tried to read it. I felt overwhelmed because I had too many books on my pile at home, and I had to stay later at work and I had to work too hard to get into Dreadful Skin. I’m convinced this is a flaw with me, as a reader, at the time I tried to read the book, and not with Dreadful Skin itself. I will definitely give this book another chance later this year.
Firestarter - Stephen King: I will NOT give Firestarter another chance. As bad as King’s novel Blaze was, Firestarter was worse. Firestarter was intended to be a highly professional piece of work (where Blaze was a trunk story published more as a historical document and where the profits went to charity), and though the novel is intended (I think) to be psychological, the pacing of the novel was turgid. I want to read all of King’s fiction, but I gave this a fair shake. It was boring (or maybe I am boring, but I was bored by the action in the novel), and for a reasonably short novel King took a long time to develop plotlines, and then when things come together everything falls apart. Right when I should care the most (the father and daughter and captured, hospitalized, and separated), I cared the least. I’m done with you, Firestarter.