Friday, December 28, 2007

Bottom Four Books Published in 2007

I have a “Best Of” list for 2007, and now I have a “Worst Of” list for 2007. I am quite sure that I avoided the truly atrocious books published during the year, but I read quite a few which just did not pass muster. It may be partially unfair to include some of these popular titles on a “Worst Of” list because compared to dreck, they may not be all that bad, but these are the 2007 titles I thought the least of.

Unlike the “Best Of” list, I am restricting this one to the worst of the worst. The Four books which made me wish I could gouge out my eyeballs with a plastic spork. Like the other list, I am leaving the fifth spot open for that really awful book I simply did not get the chance to experience.

1: The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold: After The Lovely Bones a new novel by Alice Sebold would be an event filled with anticipation and excitement. When the opening line was released months in advance, I was even more awash with desire to read this book. After months and months of thinking about it and wondering how it would all go, I opened the cover and was ready to get into the story. Within a couple of pages I was stopped cold and by the end of the third or fourth chapter I was done. It was bad, it was really bad. The idea of the narrator murdering her mother was a fascinating one and one which I thought would resonate throughout the novel and pull me through the pages one after another. Instead, it was a counterpoint to the narrator’s disappointing relationship with her mother and with her family and the weighty oppression and self pity which sucked every bit of drive out of The Almost Moon.

2: Kingdom Come, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins: This is the final entry in the Left Behind series. After three prequels, 13 main sequence novels, we are given the final sequel. Set during the “Millenium Kingdom” before the final Final Judgment, any sense of drama, tension, or narrative has been completely sucked out of the novel and we are left with nothing but a crappy epilogue onto a poorly written series that once had some narrative bite.

3: Death Star, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry: Many people would not be surprised to see a Star Wars novel on a “Worst Of” list, but on average the Star Wars books aren’t bad, and some are quite good (Matthew Stover and Karen Traviss, for two). Death Star took what either could have been an interesting story, or what should have been better left to the imagination, tried to give us characters to care about and show the Kevin Smith version of the little people who may not have been culpable in the actions of the administration, and simply failed. The best stuff here was the Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin chapters. This might be because we know the characters, and the bits from the original Star Wars film tied the whole novel together, but the new characters were distractions from the real meat of the Death Star story and I found myself skipping more than half of the book to get to the Vader and Tarkin bits. I’d like the William Goldman “Good Parts” version, but I’m afraid that would be a short story and not a novel.

4: Blaze, by Stephen King: The last of King’s novels written as Richard Bachman was essentially a “trunk story” that had gone missing for years and finally turned up. King through a layer of polish on it and released it into the wild. As a historical piece showing a bit of early, non Horror King, Blaze is an interesting text. As a novel, Blaze should be left only for those Stephen King completists. Quite a disappointment.

Links are to the original reviews

No comments: