Sunday, January 25, 2009

one resolution is going well

The book reading bit is going well.  Three actual printed books read this month, plus one audiobook as well as an audio lecture series!

In fact, I was up all night reading The Missing (info and link in the sidebar). I started it when I got into bed, and bloody hell if I didn't stay up until I'd completed it around 6am this morning. I can't even remember the last time I read a novel straight through. (Probably the final Harry Potter novel.) 

Sadly, I didn't like the book all that much. The book was well-written in that the prose was fluid, but the story actually suffered from being a bit too long. I read a review of it in the NYTimes in an article discussing a genre the author called "the dark fantastic". I (generally) like fantasy, so I put a couple of these titles on hold at the library and finally read one. The term "genre" is an odd beast, really. While the article described the story as "dark fantastic" (i.e. fantasy with darker themes, possibly a hybrid of fantasy and horror), the genre listed on the book's spine was "suspense", and this reader classified it as "horror". (Note: my familiarity of the "horror" genre is almost nil, based almost entirely on a flirtation with Stephen King novels during early adolescence. Writers imaginations' never stand still, so the "horror" genre has most likely evolved considerably over the past [cough] 25 years. I hope so anyway.) 

As a plot driven novel, it wasn't entirely interesting because it was almost identical to the film "I am Legend" (so there were very few surprises), except the story took place in a small town in Maine instead of NYC. (And I did have to wonder if the author was being somewhat tongue in cheek and giving an homage to Mr King, who has made small-town-Maine ground zero for Really Weird Sh*t to Happen.) So the story had elements of science fiction in which there was a rational, scientific reason for the weird sh*t (environmental catastrophe). The story had elements of fantasy in which the cause of the weird sh*t was a primordial, supernatural force, older than humanity. You could also argue that it was a vampire story in that the affliction spread through humans biting other humans. But I call it a "horror" story because the story centered on this horrible plague that is overwhelming the town and the story focuses on who escapes the plague and who doesn't. And that's the reason I didn't like the book. There were far too many characters and most were not developed well enough and so there was very little emotional resonance for me as a reader to even care. 

It started very promisingly, but finished weakly. Yet I still stayed up all night to finish it. 

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