Friday, March 21, 2014

My Thoughts

I haven't done one of these in a while and, for those of you who are unfamiliar with My Thoughts, these are posts that allow me to vent my frustration - or love - for something I am currently reading.  As usual, I will not be sharing the author or the title - and I'll remain elusive about actual facts of the book.  (I don't write these to hurt anyone's feelings of make an author look bad; I write them because it helps me get my head around things.)

To start off, this book is a Read 2 Review.  I was contacted by a company which suggests a book to me and I get to decide whether I want to read it or not.  If I agree, then my information is given to the author and we go from there.

My first impression of the author, in all honesty, was not a good one.  He came off as very arrogant and as if he and his wife (who he mentions in the email) are looking down on all of us lowly people laughing.  You see, one of the main items in his book shares the same name as something that people come in contact with every day.  He spends a good portion of the email to me (which is obviously cut and pasted from several different locations) explaining this item, including links to his website where you can find two .pdf files that include pictures and scientific information on this item.  He states that he and his wife realized that some people would be absolutely confused by this, assuming that his readers are all morons and can't figure out why this every day thing would be in a lab in a first place [insert guffaws here].  His attempt to make people understand (rather than insert this information in the actual book, say in an introduction or side note, which he feels would take away from the flow) came across very condescending and the questions in my head at the time were: 1) Without knowing anything about me, how can you assume that I need this clarification? 2) If you're worried that your readers won't understand, how come you didn't find a way to put in the book without messing up the flow? 3) Are you planning on sending this email to every person that buys your book because not everyone is going to go look at your website.  (Note: I read an awful lot of science fiction books and I knew already what this item was.)

Now on to the actual book ...

The murder (which is a mystery) happens at the beginning of the book.  I am now currently 53% into the book and they have not bothered to even begin investigating this murder.  In fact, they've spent the 3% (approximately, of the part I've read so far) that deals with the murder, discussing covering it up.  I actually thought they forgot about the whole thing until a few pages ago when someone was thinking about it.  THINKING about it.

The rest of the, say 45%, of this book so far has been about the facility - including the layout (which was confusing, took up a lot of space and would have probably been a lot more effective if he included a well done map at the beginning of the book), the layout of the labs (including why some buildings are built the way they are and the reasoning behind the names of said buildings), how the place is run (including paperwork, security and the types of employees there - and their jobs), and a bunch of information about a bunch of people who are working in this lab (including one particular guy and all he went through in his interview process, then what he went through in the time that he was "outside" working before he received his clearance to work "inside" - and once he came "inside" you get to hear lots of information about specific duties he's doing) - and not one bit of it seems like it really matters.  I mean, it probably matters to them, but to me, every paragraph leaves me thinking "What is the point?"

I just re-read the description for this book and it sounds awesome, amazing, very interesting - where is that book they're describing?  Is it in the second half of the book?  This is why I have such a hard time not finishing a book.  It's easy for some and I understand why they do it, but I'm stuck - I want to know about the murder, parts of this are well written, but I just don't care.  I find it very boring.  The KGB that is mentioned in the description hasn't even come into play at this point.  We're not anywhere close to finding out who the mole is.  And apparently the guy who we have to hear all about his interview process becomes a main point, but really?  He needs to go and read the last installment of Between the Bindings.

(It seems like I've got my review already written, huh?)


Andrew Leon said...

It's like I tell my creative writing students: It's fine if you want to write about your character getting up in the morning, brushing her teeth, eating breakfast (they -always- brush their teeth -before- breakfast), and going off to school, but, once you get to where the story starts, go back and take all that stuff out, because we (the readers) don't care about that stuff.

Meghan H said...

So, so true!! I want to put it away and never pick it up again, but I want to know who murdered them. And I'm hoping that all of this nonsense will eventually matter. Ugh. Yesterday I was so sure it would be my very first DNF, but now I'm not so sure. I think the best bet is to put it away for awhile and then come back to it like next week or something.

Andrew Leon said...

Technically, the first book I didn't finish was Last of the Mohicans, but I didn't mean not to finish that one, I just kind of never did. I really liked what I did read and have always meant to go back to it.
The first book I ever just decided "I'm not going to finish this" was The Scarlet Letter. Horrible book. Can't stand Hawthorne. blech

Meghan H said...

I read The Scarlet Letter. It was interesting, but not one of my favorites. I always said I would read Last of the Mohicans, but I've never gotten around to it.

I began Bombay Ice years ago and couldn't get into it. A year or so later, when we evacuated from a hurricane, it was one of the books my niece grabbed and stuck in my bag. That time I really got into it and it is now one of my favorite books.

I always feel super guilty DNF-ing a book, no matter how much I dislike it, especially if it's one, like this one, that an author gave me for free. But I also don't feel right writing a review (even if I don't rate it) on something I haven't finished. I know that others are ok with this and I hold nothing against them. Just personally - I've decided to put the book down for a week or two, read some other things, then come back to it and see if I can push myself through it.

Andrew Leon said...

I never write a review for a book I didn't finish. There have been a couple of books I would have liked to have quit reading and skip the reviews, but the authors asked me to "please, finish reading it," like I was going to somehow have an epiphany at the end of the book, "oh, this wasn't utter crap and a waste of my time."
I have to say, though, that's sticking by your work.

Meghan H said...

I don't hate it. There are parts I find interesting, but I'm bored senseless. Like, so much so I don't even want to pick the book up again. All that was promised in the wonderful book description is not there at all. I was told by someone to skip to the last couple of paragraphs and see who did it (I want to know who did the murder), but there's supposed to be espionage and spies and stuff and we've really not touched on that at all. Maybe a total of one page worth of touching on it so far and I'm at 54%.

You're an author. How would you want a reviewer to handle this situation if this was your book? You gave them a free book for an honest review. (He also made a big deal about how reviews in the beginning are the most important blah blah blah and wanted it read in a month's time, so I agreed, because it did sound so great, to move it ahead on my list.) Do I email him and tell him I can't finish his book and why? Do I just not write the review?

Andrew Leon said...

For me, I would want you to finish the book and give me the review, even a negative review. However, most authors don't really want that, the negative review, I mean. What I have found in the situations where I have contacted someone for whom I was doing a review to let them know that the book wasn't ready for the public is that they will say, "Finish the book." At first, I thought this was because they were actually willing to take the bad review "like a man," so to speak, but that's not actually true. They harbored some belief that if I just got to the end that I would somehow come to love the book, but all three of those books were a horrible waste of my life, and those authors became very upset when they got negative reviews. But, hey, I did warn them, and I would rather have actually quit reading and not done the reviews than finish those books.

So... all of that to say, don't bother to contact the author. The author will be under the delusion, almost certainly, that if you just finish it, you will like it. And from what you've said, your author here sounds like that kind of person. You just need to make a decision: drop the book and forget it or finish it and do the negative review.

Meghan H said...

See, Andrew - THIS is why I miss our conversations. You always make so much sense. I had actually tried yesterday to write the email to the guy, but after several attempts, I just could not get my words right. I think my best bet is to put it away, like I said, then come back in a week or two. If I still feel the way that I do now about it, I'll put it away for longer (and maybe never come back to it).

I have had people tell me to "just read it, you'll love it" about other books, but if you haven't won me over by the second half, that last bit isn't going to do it.