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Not So Good Reads

So, I knew I would fall embarrassingly behind in my GoodReads Challenge (30 books) eventually, and then just plow through some graphic novels to make up the numbers, like I did this week. I usually read a small number of books at a time, keeping focus on one or two to make progress, but the two I decided to focus on are major hindrances right now. They're both e-books. One (Makers, by Cory Doctorow) is good, but I'm not feeling it in digital format. Hopefully, Ron will remember that he promised to let me borrow the book someday.

The other (Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan) is MURDER! The concept is good, if not overdone: ancient secret society of book-lovers trying to crack an immortality code, complete with use of technology to solve shit and get the artifact from this archival library or whatever - I mean, come on, Codex much? But I can't get through it. The story is fine, and it honestly reeled me in pretty well in the first few chapters when a friend let me read some of it (why I bought the damn thing). But the writing is so bad! Even the short story sucked. It's like he took his short story, fluffed it up with tell-not-show details of the surroundings and actions, and then took a list of "write better" rules and randomly threw those rules at random spots, which somehow make the cliches even more cliche. There are a couple of genuinely interesting parts, but I can't go through one page without rolling my eyes.

I had Charles read a page out loud, and he had remarked on this one phrase that was capitalized like a title, and I said, "The fucking narrator actually wrote that a few pages ago!" and I grabbed the Kindle and flipped back 4 pages to a part where the title character says something about The Reading Room, and the narrator states (ah, let me grab it, hang on)... "The way he says it, I can hear the capital letters." FUCKING FUCK YOU.

Not to mention the absolutely shitty one-dimensional characters. The lead character, who has a name, but I don't remember it, because nobody ever uses it, is a shallow guy who has yet to grow or even develop as a character. His best friend Neel is actually Richie Rich with less personality, and is their only source of finances to explain their journey costs. And his girlfriend Kat works for Google, and her eyes shine every time there's a document to scan or something to look up (that's pretty much the only analogy he uses for her excitement). I have no idea what any of them look like. I don't know what their hobbies are outside their story utilities. They're all supposed to be adults, but all I can see are college-type teenagers. The lead character, at one point, had to mention the lead girl's boobs when they made out. It was such a juvenile scene, I'm surprised he didn't call them "boobies" (though, he might have, it was a long time ago when I read that part). The only character that shows a hint of depth is Penumbra, but he's hardly in it.

There is not even an adversary yet! I'm 53% through the book, and there is no adversary. Unless it's Robin Sloan himself. Because I'm hating on him pretty hard right now. Even his website is dull as shit:
"When not writing, I dork around with technology. Currently, I am writing."
"The main thing to do here is sign up for my email newsletter."
"I’m on a mission to bring back the word inventor with all its connotations"

I had more to say, but I really just don't want to have more to say. I've shit on this guy enough. I feel an obligation to finish the story, though, even if it means I'm just going to breeze over huge chunks of it. But for now, I've gotta hunt down breakfast.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2015 06:32 pm (UTC)
Ugh, you did way better than me. I was really intrigued and the title sounded great amd the premise sounded like, the da Vinci code but not pretentious, and then it was sooooooo borrrriiinnnnggg. Fuck you, Penumbra, your bookstore fucking sucks.
Aug. 5th, 2015 06:39 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy I wasn't the only one who got duped! I mean, not happy that either of us got duped, but happy someone else hates it as much as I do.
Aug. 6th, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
What makes it worse is that when I bought it, there was a review on... I think Amazon? that said basically everything that I hated about it, and I read it and was like, whatevs, negative review guy, title sounds awesome, I scoff at you.

Aug. 7th, 2015 01:17 pm (UTC)
After I was CERTAIN I was tricked into it, I went searching for bad reviews, just so I could validate my own hatred. All the best ones on GoodReads point out my feelings so precisely.
Aug. 7th, 2015 09:25 am (UTC)
"So, I knew I would fall embarrassingly behind in my GoodReads Challenge (30 books) eventually, and then just plow through some graphic novels to make up the numbers, like I did this week."

Ha! That's exactly what I've done. Of the 25 books I've read so far this year, 10 were graphic novels.

Oh dear, that books sounds horrible. So horrible that I almost want to read it just so I can be disparaging.
Aug. 7th, 2015 01:14 pm (UTC)
Yeeesssssss, share in my misery!!!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )