My progress on number 84, An American Tragedy, continues, slowly but surely. About a fifth of the way through it, I'm enjoying it. However, it is a slow read at almost 900 pages of tiny print. Looks like I won't be able to finish it before the Stampede, as planned.
As I've been reading though, with little to report, I started to think of some of the truly terrible books I've read recently. Usually, I only write about books I've really enjoyed, or ones I'd recommend to people. But other than a couple of books I didn't like from this list, I haven't talked about those "bad books."
Well, let me tell you about a couple of them now!
First off is one of my Book Club's reads from last fall, The Martian by Andy Weir. This was one I was really looking forward to it, and in fact I was the one who nominated it. The idea of somebody being stranded on Mars and how he would deal with the psychological trauma, all with the exotic red planet as a back drop, was very intriguing.
What a disappointment.
First off, the isolation from being stranded on Mars was never dealt with. Well it was, but it was explained away in one sentence. "I'm mentally tough, that's why they picked me." And that was the extent of the character development. There wasn't a back story for any of the characters, there wasn't any physical description of them, and there wasn't any inner monologue. Oh wait, we did learn that one of the astronauts likes disco, which our protagonist does not. Which is why he ended half the chapters with "Disco sucks." (Even though I can have 20,000 songs on the iPad with which I am typing these words, these astronauts on a two-year journey to Mars were only able to bring with them the equivalent of about 3 CD's).
To make matters worse, the dialogue was truly embarrassing. It was nothing but sarcasm, cheap puns and corny one-liners. "We could do that, but I'm into, you know, not dying." When one astronaut discovered a budding romance between two of his shipmates, they exchanged high-fives and joked about joining the "million-mile club," like a couple of 14 year olds. It was as if this was how Weir thought cool people talked, and he wanted all of his characters to be super cool, but still knowledgable about science. But really, it was dialogue written by somebody who can't write.
You would think a novel set in the exotic locale of Mars, would have some description of Mars. You would think. This one didn't. Other than a couple of lines, two-thirds through the book, no description of Mars was ever given. It might as well have taken place on a sound stage. Almost instantly, the allure of setting the book on a distant planet, was lost.
But what an exciting plot, says everybody! Every time our hero faced an impossible situation, he then solved it in a matter of seconds, with relative ease. "If only I had a hammer. Oh, yay! I just remembered there is a hammer in another room! yay! I rock!" These resolutions came about so quickly, there wasn't even a chance to worry things wouldn't work out. I've read Hardy Boy books with more tension. And this was how most of the book progressed; an obstacle was encountered, then bypassed. Then it was on to the next one.
The only thing I can say I enjoyed about this book was the premise. Unfortunately, that premise wasn't really explored, and thus I couldn't even enjoy that. In the hands of another writer, this could have really been something, but instead it was a couple hundred pages of pulp, lost in a sea of cheap plot devices and unrealistic dialogue. It disgusts me that this book is rated higher on Goodreads than any other book I've read, save Lord of the Rings.
I was going to talk about another book I didn't like, The Battle of Alberta by Mark Spector, but I don't think have the energy to do so today. It's quite draining writing about something I didn't enjoy. I'll post about that one tomorrow.