Tag Archives: Why Some Books Suck

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: The events leading up to the “waterless flood,” a global catechism wiping out almost all of mankind, as told from the point of view of two survivors, a sex worker and a healer, both of whom were members of a radical vegetarian cult. Review: The Year of the Flood is Margaret Atwood’s companion to Oryx and Crake, presenting the events that led to Jimmy the Snowman’s reign over the gentle, sinless Crakers in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Atwood resolutely refuses to call either book “science…

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Stories (Booking Through Thursday)

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next? Oh yeah, this is totally me. Story trumps all. I wouldn’t give two figs for diamond sharp prose and stellar ideas without a…

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Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove

Synopsis: A San Francisco lawyer finds herself magically spirited back to ancient Rome, where she ends up running a tavern and weathering a German invasion. Review: I’m reading Household Gods for an online book club, and the only reason I didn’t quit this book is because I really like the people in the book club. I am not worried about hurting anyone’s feelings by admitting it, because I’m the one who chose it! It’s been languishing in my TBR stack since Christmas 2006 when my…

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Lit-Ra-Chur (Booking Through Thursday)

When somebody mentions literature what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?) Do you read literature (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must? Honestly? I think of books I don’t want to read, not because they’re bad, per se, but because they’re written to do something other than tell a captivating story. I put Joyce and Pynchon in this category. They’re about as “high art” as novels go, and while I appreciate what…

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The Starter Marriage by Pamela Paul

Synopsis: An overview of the recent phenomenon of marriages that end before they reach the five-year mark. Review: I hate books that never tell you more than what you read in the title. I generally enjoy books like this, as I’m keenly interested in human behavior and social trends, but this book really didn’t do it for me. I never felt like Paul’s interviewees came alive, and as a result I wasn’t sucked into the drama of their lives. I gave up on it 2/3…

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Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Synopsis: Deanna’s lived under a dark cloud ever since her dad caught her having sex when she was just 13, and her dreams of getting out just might expire under the weight of his disapproval. Review: I’m a latecomer getting to Sara Zarr’s National Book Award Finalist novel Story of a Girl, though it’s been on my radar for quite some time. I’m so glad I finally carved out some time to read it. I’ve often criticized young adult literature for piling on the woe,…

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Negativity Meme

Created by Dewey, picked up at Becky’s Book Reviews: 1. When you dislike a book, do you say so in your blog? Why or why not? Oh, yes–absolutely. I even have tags about it (see my tag list below). I do try to be fair, in that I like to analyze why I didn’t like a book, figure out what went wrong, instead of just ranting. I believe that I am able to discern when something just isn’t my taste versus when it’s not good,…

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The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Synopsis: In a world characterized by politics and intrigue, a sorceror unites a legendary rogue, a dandyish fighter, and an outlaw woman in the fight to… oh, I’m not really sure what, honestly. Review: Seriously, what is The Blade Itself about? I was lost from really early on. The characters were interesting, but there didn’t seem to be much of a story, just a bunch of incidents loosely threaded together. I never got the connections or what the stakes were, or what anyone’s goals were.…

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The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay (The Fionavar Tapestry, Book One)

Synopsis: Five Toronto college students are pulled into an alternate world where they discover their true destinies at the outset of a war that could affect all worlds, including their own. Review: Yep, another hard-to-synopsize epic fantasy book. The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay employs one of the standard fantasy templates–ordinary people drawn into an extraordinary world–making the book “execution dependent.” That means that Kay has to work twice as hard to make the story feel fresh and exciting. Share on Facebook

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Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Synopsis: When Clay receives a box of cassette tapes recorded by a girl who recently committed suicide, he wonders why he was chosen as one of her thirteen reasons. Review: Compelling premise ultimately founders on muddled execution. Asher throws in at least four separate social problems as part of Hannah’s reasons for her suicide, and the construction ends up feeling far too contrived. This has the odd effect of making the story seem small, as though all of the suffering endured by the various characters…

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