Three Books People Rave About and How They Partially Let Me Down

As exams are wrapping up, and as my sanity slowly returns, I have finally found more time to devote to writing and “publishing.”  I put snarky quotes around publishing since I’m in the editing process with my publisher and have been tasked with finding reviewers for my debut novel.  What a task.

I have a new fondness and respect for book bloggers.  They are so key to this process, and they truly open the door for unknown authors to get recognized.  This is why I’m okay being a little critical in this post.  These three authors are well respected and have probably made a decent living off their works.  I also found something fundamentally wrong with their books that ruined otherwise brilliant works.  *Spoiler alerts ahead*

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Let me start by saying this: The book is beautifully written.  I mean, gorgeous writing that anyone can appreciate.  The setting and the characters pop. And it is very satisfying when the threads of the story weave into a beautiful plot connected by a shared experience with the radio program.

Here’s what blew me (as my students in Chicago would say): the ending.  The death of one of the main characters by stepping on a land mine…sure, there’s probably some good reason for it.  To me, it felt like a hasty kill off of an actor who left a show due to contract disagreements after 7 seasons of built up storylines.  But whatever, not a huge turn-off.  The gratuitous rapes at the end? That was entirely unnecessary and off-putting. I get it. Russians were cruel during WWII.  The women were innocent.  What that had to do with the rest of the story? Meh.

Lamb by Christopher Moore


Let me start by saying I idolize Christopher Moore’s humor.  The more I read him, the more I realize his creative genius. Seriously, I’m a fan.

The first novel of his I read was Lamb, which I had high-hopes for when I picked it up.  A creative look at Jesus’s childhood? Awesome.  Quirky humor? Yes, please.  A weird foray into Buddhism? Uh, what?

The whole tension with Mary Magdalene was a creative license I didn’t mind.  A character named Biff, ha! how wonderfully weird.  But the end of the novel took me from my expectant look at Jesus’s development and discovery that he was the Son of God (which is prime for great speculative fiction) to a tangential journey into Eastern religions that didn’t come across as satisfying.  I think I understand why Moore chose to do it. Doesn’t mean I liked it (and that’s probably all because of my own biases as a Christian).


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Simply this:  The blowing up of his home didn’t really elicit much from me nor the protagonist (which, sure, his family sucked).

The concept was cool.  The 80’s references okay.  After awhile, I just couldn’t buy in to a subculture obsession with that decade so far into the future.  Such gushing fanfare for such an awkward decade provided such a distaste that I hurried through the novel to finish it.

Ultimately, again, my own biases: I think people who have a prominent infatuation over the 80’s or any other nostalgic time and/or place are pathetic (that was harsh: they are, um, misguided?) It reminded me of the kids at my college who would demand 80’s music at every party we went to, even though the contemporary music was bumpin’, yo (I didn’t go out much).  I never understood the fascination with the culture, and I probably never will.

Flock of Seagulls is alright, though.