Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Taking a Reviewing Break

I posted a while back about how I needed a break from reviewing and was trying to finish my review pile so I could relax and read books of my choosing for a few months.  Well, more books arrived and the pile grew rather than shrunk, and I ended up in a reviewing funk that's caused me to become ultra critical when reading.  How do I know this?  I'm used to putting aside a book every now and then, but I've stopped reading more books lately than I've finished.  Here's a sampling of the books I couldn't finish and why.

Note, these books weren't horrible, I just didn't have the attention span or patience for them.

Hater by David Moody.  I actually liked this book.  The first person narrative read more like stream of consciousness, which was hard to get use to, but beyond that it was a delightfully creepy story.  Why didn't I finish it?  Because it was too dark and creepy for me at the time.  I fully expect to go back to it when I'm in the mood for something scary, but it was too much when I tried to read it.

Water Wars by Cameron Stracher.  This book had some very immersive writing, almost making me miss my subway stop on my way to work.  Why did I stop reading?  Because while I liked the premise - water has become a commodity countries fight over - the execution consisted of two teens stumbling into dangerous situations that they consistently and almost magically escape.  And the pirates who kidnap them early on become heroes who rescue them later (I only got half way through the book so this isn't an end of book spoiler).  I understand that issues aren't all black and white, but this didn't sit well with me.

Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson.  Yes, I got an arc of the much anticipated novel.  I was looking forward to reading it too, which made me that much more annoyed that I wasn't enjoying the reading experience when I started the book.  First, the premise of an AI that kept records of the human 'heroes' discovery of the robot uprising and eventual triumph struck me as bizarre.  Why would the robots care how they took over and what the humans did?  They're not human, they have perfect memories.  They can store information in several locations rather than having one black box repository with all this information. 

And the 'narrations', told in first person, didn't ring true.  One in particular struck me as bizarre.  The reader is told that the story is pieced together using highway surveillance footage and narration after the fact between two people at an internment camp.  Somehow, using these pieces of information, the narrator discovers a bird chirping in the distance and the steam rising from a young boy's urinating by the side of a road.  Surveillance footage doesn't normally include sound, and I can't imagine the mother being so crass when telling her story as to mention some of the narrative details.

Finally the book read as a poor imitation of World War Z.  I'm sure it wasn't, and had I tried reading it some other time I might have really liked the book (I've noticed some good reviews popping up on the internet).  But that's what happens when you spend too much time reading as a 'job'.

The last book I can remember not finishing is The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter by Brent Hayward.  I have no excuse for not finishing this book.  The writing was good, if wordy.  The story was interesting.  I stopped fairly quickly because I wasn't in the mood for it and too many people and situations were being introduced without any cohesive plot or protagonist showing up.  I may return to it when I've had a break.

So, what do I have planned?  I'm going to start rereading some of the books that I know I love, which I haven't read in years.  I'll do reviews for them (or new reviews for some books that got short, incomplete reviews back when I started up).  When I'm ready, I'll get back into reviewing newer stuff again. 

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