Wednesday, April 22, 2009


At one point in my life, I read much more than I do now. I think this was before having a child, and probably before I went to grad school. I still read, but there's been a definite drop in both the quantity and quality of my reading. The past couple years have been particularly difficult - after the deaths of my mentor and my dad, I've wanted to avoid anything serious, anything potentially distressing, and preferably no discussions of cancer in my books. That's mostly left me with mysteries and science fiction, although I admit that most of the Twilight series also snuck in there. (I haven't read the last book, and I probably will. At the same time, I think it's a terribly written series and the female protagonist is a wet washrag.)

Two weekends ago, I went to the bookstore with Julie, ostensibly to knit. We didn't ever get around to that - we wandered around a lot, and yakked a lot, but didn't pull out the knitting. I did, however, purchase some books. I just finished The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, volumes 1 and 2 over the weekend. It looked promising - it had great blurbs, it was a NY Times Bestseller, it sold itself as
"...a bodice-ripping, action-packed roller-coaster ride of suspense, betrayal, and richly fevered dreams."
With a line like that, I couldn't resist. I wasn't looking for high literature after all, I was looking for escapism.

The first chapter was promising, but the book rapidly got bogged down in its own language, overly convoluted plots, and poor pacing. Parts of the book stretched on forever, and critical scenes were rushed and hard to follow. By the time I finished reading both volumes (evidently this is one larger work that was packaged into two smaller paperbacks for ease of handling), I still had no connection to any of the characters, and had lost track of much of the intrigue and the rationale for most of the actions. It was bizarrely violent, gory, and completely nonsensical, and lacked any sense of fun.

I don't think it's that I don't like steampunk - Girl Genius amuses me, and I enjoyed the Difference Engine, but this book really left me cold. In some ways I think it's comparable to Jonathan Norrell and Mr. Strange, at least in terms of being somewhat in need of an editor, but Norrell and Strange was a much better book. I didn't enjoy that one very much either, but at least I didn't want a refund of my time quite as badly.

Overall, I was disappointed, and I'm recommending a pass on these.

1 comment:

Julie said...

What I didn't like was the jumping around in first person perspective. I'm not a fan of first person to begin with, but you start head-hopping and I get really grumpy. In the case of this book I think it's an excellent idea and an excellent plot and the author got bogged down with trying to make the telling of it original and daring. Because I want to know how the damn story ends. But damned if I want to slog through all that first-person crap to get to it. After the first chapter I fell back on my old English major book-scanning-in-a-hurry tricks to get the gist of the plot but read as little of the stilted prose as possible.

I'm with you on this. And I LIKE Steampunk.