Regular readers of this blog will have noticed my last post was awfully close to heart. It’s been a while, and if one can’t vent on one’s own blog, where can one? I try not to do it too often though. I wouldn’t want to read it, so I wouldn’t inflict it on you.
A lot has happened these past months. I won’t bore you with it, but it’s safe to say I’ve grown up. But instead of trying to explain it, I’m going to talk about books instead. Because, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been reading GROWN UP BOOKS!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading the usual crap too. I had to break up some of the heavier books with some Sophie Kinsella trash, which can occasionally be worth a read; sadly not these ones. And I’ve read some fantastic Dystopian young adult books too, like Unwind and Wool (which has a dumb name in my opinion). I might write about those another time, but for now, GROWN UP BOOKS!
Disclaimer: I don’t do proper grown up books. I can’t be bothered with biographies. Dislike stories based on truth. My reasoning has always been: if a book upsets or disturbs me, I can put it down and remind myself it’s not real. Very mature response but that’s just me. So for me, this is a big deal.
I want to talk about storytelling. It’s a real art (not one I am implying I am master of in the slightest). So I read Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn). I read Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller. I read The Silver Linings Playbook, by … Matthew Quick (thank goodness for my Kindle app). And I read The Casual Vacancy, by the great JK Rowling. These are all without a doubt completely different to the Dystopian books I’ve been filling my brain with lately. And it completely and utterly bums me out to say that The Casual Vacancy was the one I enjoyed the least. Anyone who knows me knows that Mr Potter and I go way back.
But this is where the storytelling comes in. People will glance at this and assume I’m a fantasy nut, who couldn’t cope with JKR writing something without magic in it. And to be honest, I wouldn’t blame you. Read what I just wrote. But it’s simply not the case. Take The Storyteller. Anyone who knows me would have a heart attack if you told them I read a book that was mostly set in a concentration camp in World War II. Scary, real stuff that actually happened to thousands of people. But I was riveted. I loved the characters, wanted to know how it panned out for them. The Casual Vacancy didn’t have that. Every last character was as obnoxious as the next. But even this shouldn’t be reason enough to dislike a book. The two main characters in Gone Girl were complete and utter assholes, for lack of a better word. But I couldn’t put that book down. I needed to know if these idiots got the comeuppance. So why didn’t I like Vacancy? Why did I spend the whole book willing a meteor to fall out of the sky and crush the entire town of Pagford? I have this issue where I can’t leave a book unfinished, but I truly had to force myself to read this one. I had no attachment to any character. I didn’t hate them, I didn’t love them, I didn’t even merely like them. How did this woman, one of the greatest storytellers of our time, allow this to happen?
My own opinion is that there was too much shoved in there. I know it was supposed to show how the whole town was, but enough is enough. Don’t throw the girl who cuts herself in for shock value. Don’t casually bring in the awkward middle aged woman’s crush on what I can only assume was this universe’s 1Direction for the sake of a hastily written fumble. I can’t even remember any other points about the book. I guess I was rooting for Robbie and Krystal to an extent, hoping they’d escape to a better life. There was no redemption for any of the characters though, no happy ever after. I guess it just seemed pointless. Where did we go? We went on this journey with an entire town and I feel like we accomplished nothing. Silver Linings Playbook dragged on a little, but at least by the end we had the full story.
So that’s my opinion. I read a couple of great books, a couple of alright ones, and one that definitely won’t be having a reread. But the next time Queen Rowling comes out with a book, I’ll still dive right in there. Seven good books versus one mediocre one is pretty good odds. Don’t know what book is next on my list. I think there’s a few Jo Nesbo’s on my Kindle app but I’m not really feeling a murder type book at the moment. After going a little dystopia nuts lately, it’s probably a worthwhile read though. Will keep you posted!