[identity profile] monissaw.livejournal.com
The History: Medieval book took a while to choose, as we couldn't find one that looked like we'd want to read. Finally we decided The Greatest Knight, by Elizabeth Chadwick looked like a good compromise. Then I had to wait for a copy to come available at the library, then finish the book I was already reading, and by the TGK had to go back to the library because someone else wanted, so I bought a cheap copy and waited for that to arrive. Gah.

And after all that... it starts with the MC asleep, dreaming, about himself as a child. Yeah. So the first three chapters are episodes in the life of the MC. Maybe the whole book is like that, or maybe it gets more of a connected narrative, I don't know because I stopped reading after the third chapter. If I want episodic life histories, I'll read a biography, and that way I can skip the lists of what they eating and other lovely created descriptions that did nothing to evoke a sense of the place to me. The only thing it evoked was the feeling that the author had done a lot of research and wanted to include all these lovely details. (Historical fiction usually makes me feel like that, this is why I Don't Like It.)

I'm sure it's a very good book if you like fictionalised account of famous people with lots of visual details. I don't, and this seems to be what Medieval History book seem to be about, or war, or both. This is why it took us so long to find one to read :)
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
I reached page 86 of Cloud Atlas and that seemed a good place to pause and consider whether I wanted to go on, as the Frobisher sequence had ended and another new sequence was about to begin. It was with very little difficulty that I decided I had no wish to continue. Frankly, I was finding the book dull.

As was blindingly obvious, Frobisher stole from his host and patron. As was painfully predictable, he also started having sex with Mrs host and patron. It's like Birdsong all over again. I find it ironic that I mentioned Birdsong in my first post on this book and that the word 'birdsong' actually appears in a section dealing with this tedious interaction between the two. Is this kind of story so very common? Do people really enjoy reading it that much? I wasn't enjoying reading it at all. And eh, when a character has sex with anyone who asks, whether for pleasure or for money, it's not all that interesting. There's no conflict, no sparring, no negotiations, nothing for the reader to savour. Boring.

Still no sfnal elements. I've seen authors pulverised by critiquers for not hinting at the SFFy bits on page one. But by page 86 you'd expect a glimpse or two. Nope. Nothing.

Where the book is successful is that the first person narrative by Ewing is nothing like that by Frobisher. The distinct voices are very successful. Unlike in, say, The Historian, or The Time-Traveller's Wife, you don't need to be reminded every five minutes that the narrator has changed. So that aspect of the book is in fact excellent. In the absence of any other excellent aspects, however, it wasn't enough to keep me reading. Alas.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
I'd been getting increasingly dissatisfied with Beyond Black for some time when I reached a point where I simply didn't want to continue.

Disenchantment set in firstly when Colette was given a huge info-dump that included the software packages she'd learnt to use. Yes, I'm sure it's useful for the author to know that Colette's a whizz at mail-merge, but do I need to know it? I do not. Maybe if it had been used to illustrate some aspect of her character it would have been informative, but Mantel had already established that Colette is efficient and organised, so it didn't. It felt instead as if Mantel had copied and pasted an early character sketch right into the novel.

Worse, the novel then goes into extended backstory. True, there wasn't much plot to abandon, but by that point any attempt at plot clearly had been thrown out of the window with a grand gesture of indifference. On and on with backstory or flashback or whatever you want to call it, stuff that happened long before the point at which the book opened. Stuff that is not going to propel any plot ever.

In short, the book doesn't have much plot, and what plot it has, it has no interest in. Gah. And yawn. And WTF?

But the book signed its death warrant when it reached the death of Diana Spencer. No, I'm sorry, I had to live through the ghastly outpourings of self-indulgence when the woman died and was beatified merely because she was too stupid to wear her seatbelt. I have no intention of reliving it through any medium, not even Alison.

So the book languishes. It's unlikely I'll pick it up again.

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The Little Dog Laughed

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