Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tossed Aside - an Un-Review of 4 Books

Over the past few days, I have managed to start and then discard four different books, sometimes after only a few pages. It’s not that the books are necessarily bad – could have been my mood or the phase of the moon. So this is an Un-Review of the following books:

In my eternal search for good books to listen to on my antique CD Walkman while loping around Venice, I happened upon Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson, narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. I had never read any of the previous books about Goldy the caterer, and at first was captivated by a murder in the library, just as Goldy is setting up for a Literary Breakfast for library staff. But after three disks, Goldy was still at the library and absolutely nothing was happening, so despite Rosenblat’s fabulous Marlo Thomas-like growly/squeaky narration, I gave up.

Next grown-up book – Now You See Him by Eli Gottlieb, about the effect of a writer’s murder of his girlfriend, and subsequent suicide, on the lives of his childhood friends. It is told (at least the part I read) in first-person plural, which irritated me vaguely, as did the writing style. And then, in restless dissatisfaction, I read the back flap, which said of Gottlieb’s previous book The Boy Who Went Away that it won many awards and “received extraordinary notices.” See? I’m so crabby.

In putting together a post on SF for tweens and teens, I’m trying to catch up on new and newish stuff I’ve missed. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson seemed most intriguing, being about a cult of librarians who take over the world. But…it just didn’t work for me. Young Alcatraz struck me as being hugely unappealing, and then I read the description of an Evil Librarian – “She perpetually kept her hair up in a bun that was only slightly less tight than the dissatisfied line of her lips.” Okay, I know it’s supposed to be funny! My funny bone must be on the blink this week, I swear, ‘cause I’m just a bit too touchy these days.

I read almost all of The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep by John Hulme and Michael Wexler before tossing it aside with a sigh. The concept is fabulous – the world was created by the inhabitants of another world, The Seems, and is maintained and operated by them. Naturally, with such a complicated system, things go wrong, and that’s where the Fixers come in. 12-year-old Becker Drane is a stalwart and brave employee (and also an inhabitant of our World, as all Fixers are), but when a Glitch hits the Sleep Department, and no one in the World can fall asleep, things start to look grim. Why did I stop reading? I just stopped caring. The novelty of the idea wore thin, and there hadn’t been enough character development to pull me through. This would be fabulous for young readers with better temperaments than I apparently possess.

I’d love to hear from people who actually finished and loved these books – please convince me that I should finish them when I’m in a better mood. Perhaps with a gin and tonic in hand?


  1. I have only recently liberated myself from the compulsion to finish reading what I start, no matter how awful the book or how little I am enjoying it. Is it Nancy Pearl who provides some kind of age-based formula for how many pages you need to read before you can abandon a book?

  2. I no longer feel guilty abandoning books either.

    I do read Diane Mott Davidson books but they can drag so I don't blame you for giving up. I've been reading them for YEARS and continue to read them to see where the author takes the character, not really for the mystery.