Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Books I couldn't finish

It's normal for writers and readers to wax lyrical about the books they loved, or still love, years later. Less talked-about are the books that they didn't like (but I hear you cry, that's what we've got Amazon One-Star for, no?)

I tend to get most if not all of my books from the library first go and then if I like them, I buy them for the bookshelf. That way, I don't get my fingers burned as I used to, many years ago, when I belonged to a book club and bought on their recommendation stuff that got given to charity shops or donated to the library so that they'd have a chance of finding a more receptive home.

It's rare that I'll stop a book halfway through and take it back to the library unfinished. However, one of the recent ones was Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. She's written this, and its sequel, Bring up the Bodies, about the life of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's fixer and schemer extraordinaire.

It's a big book (which was one minus point if you need to get a book read relatively quickly) and for some unknown reason, she chose to write it in the present tense and never actually identify Cromwell, merely referring to him as 'he' during the narrative, which made it immensely difficult to tell who was who when there was more than one 'he' present. It just didn't work for me and rather than slog on with it, I took it back, unfinished.

Another work that I had high hopes for to begin with was The Terror by Dan Simmons.

This is another big book (do you spot a trend emerging here?) about the loss of the Franklin expedition which disappeared whilst trying to find the Northwest Passage in the mid-19th century. It's a richly-detailed read and puts you right amongst the sailors and officers who made up the expedition but by jingo, it's long, long, long!  I felt like I'd accidentally ordered ten times as much of my favourite food as I'd intended and had to eat it all. In the end, I realised that I wasn't going to get to the end of it and skimmed forward to find out what the reveal was about the horrible monster which was picking off the sailors one by one. What a disappointment!  I won't give any more away just in case you've yet to read the book but for me, it was a massive let-down.

I won't go into too much detail on Dean Koontz's 77 Shadow Street.

I so wanted this to be everything that Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill wasn't (i.e scary), but after only a few pages, I began to realise that it wasn't. It veered off from psychological horror towards a strange sort of science fiction; indeed, it didn't really seem to know where it was going, which is probably why Bloody Disgusting, the horror review site, called it a 'boring, unplotted mess.'

I actually finished this one but it wasn't scary  

So what about you?  Have you started a book that you'd wanted to read but ended up tossing it to one side in either disgust, boredom or bemusement?

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