I can't not finish a story once I've started it. Yes, I may take an entire month to read a hundred pages, but somehow I will finish that sucker. Something about finishing a job started, or some sense of loyalty to the characters...I don't know. I HAVE to finish it, even if maybe it's not that great of a book.
But I do have exceptions. Books that are actually offensive I won't bother finishing. Sometimes there's something in the writing style or characterizations that I just can't deal with. Or if it's just plain stupid. These books are few and far between though, and that's why in the last year I've only had three "did not finish" books - that is, books I didn't finish for a good reason and never will. And in my opinion, three is too many.
The Recue by Nicholas Sparks
I tried. I honestly did. I’ve heard Nicholas Sparks raved about by so many people, and it seems like every year brings a new movie based on one of his books. When even Brother #4 read one and loved it, I knew I was in for a treat. But I only got 50 pages before I caught myself constantly rolling my eyes. And then I did something I never NEVER do. I started skimming. That’s how I know a book has gotten bad – if I have to skim. And my skimming proved to me that nothing changed.
The writing was so poor I found myself getting pretty annoyed. For instance, towards the beginning, at a very dramatic climactic scene, the hero has a huge search party organized to go into the woods and search for a missing little boy. He has them gathered and is making a very dramatic speech about finding this boy. Does the author write the speech? No, he tells you from a third-person point of view, the content of the speech. Instead of, “We’re going to find this boy and bring him home,” he said, Sparks writes more like He told them that as the night deepened it was important that the find the boy soon, and return him home. He said the rain was coming in, and they only had so much time left. This may not seem like such a big deal, but the entire book was like that. Huge passages of dialogue, instead of being written as dialogue for you to read, were written as a description of the content of the dialogue. It may be nit-picky but it really grated on me after a while.
And in combination with a thin plot, weak characters, and generally cheesy writing, I just couldn’t do it. I have heard that this isn’t one of his best, so maybe I still haven’t given him a fair shot. I’m willing to try one more time with a different book, just for the sake of trying. Can any of you recommend which would be the best one to try?
Leverage by Matt Forbeck
I love this TV show. I can’t even put into words how great it is. Every episode makes me laugh out loud, and the characters have just become part of me after watching it so many times. The idea of the show is that a group of con artists, thieves, and grifters have come together to use their individual specialties to help victims of white collar crimes, loan sharks, etc., get justice where the law failed them. Yes, it’s vigilantism, but Batman is a vigilante, and I like him too. Watching these crooks using their talents to help average people, instead of for their own prosperity is just so different from anything I’ve ever seen.
Unfortunately, the show only has five seasons, and that’s just not enough. When I saw that there was a series of novels after the show, I admit, I may have become rather fangirlish. I shouldn’t have bothered. From the few chapters I read, about the only thing I can say is that it was as clean as the show. Other than that, though, there was nothing about it that I could appreciate. The dialogue was nothing like the show, and the whole thing was just very, again, cheesy. Facts that any show-watcher would know, were related over and over again. The characters were stiff and unnatural. I didn’t have to read very far to realize I should just stick with the show.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This one was simple to put down. About 50 pages in, suddenly every page had either gratuitous language or sexual references. The clinical scientific voice of the narrator, and the odd mismatching of him with a very…er, quirky woman already had me raising an eyebrow. By the time it became truly ‘adult’ in the foulest sense of the word, I had no trouble putting it down.
I don’t like having to put books away unfinished, but sometimes that’s the best choice. Thankfully there’s only three, but still I wish there weren’t that many. And hopefully it will be quite a while before I have enough to write another of these posts.