Totally Random Tuesday
I recently read (most of) Cruel Beauty and despite disliking a lot of aspects of the book made it through around 250 pages or so before skimming the rest through to the end. This got me thinking about why I pushed through as far as I did despite tweeting out that I’d stop around 100-150 pages if it didn’t improve since I had almost DNF’d it twice. Why do I make it through certain books even if I’m not enjoying myself that much and what crosses the line to become that rare DNF? Finally, what does this say about me and the facets of a book I enjoy most, in short: what kind of reader am I?
So the first question, why did I push through as much of Cruel Beauty? Early in the book the MC was already bugging me. Her inner monologues/quarrels with herself were incredibly irritating and it was just a slow beginning in general. She’s showed signs of just being a jerk at times and yet acted high and mighty at others, it was infuriating.
As I pushed through the book maintained a relatively slow pace, but the world showed itself and I did like a lot of the aspects of it. There was magic, mythology, religion, mystery, and complexity not often seen in YA. The side characters (for the most part) were engaging and funny, each in different ways, but I was pursuing for those reasons. However, eventually the MC wore me down, instalove and a pseudo-love triangle emerged, and the book lost any luster it had previously gained. What had kept me going had failed in the end, and it just wasn’t enough to do more than skim the ending.
The next question is why do I make it through some books but others I give up and DNF? This one is pretty simple at first glance, I know how much work goes into making these books and I want to give the authors every opportunity, plus I hate shining a bad light on books other people may enjoy and love.
Digging deeper it is due to what about books gets me reading, keeps me there, and appeals to me the most. Which leads me to the third question, what kind of reader am I? I’m a character driven reader, I live for them, often in the best book live within them, and love seeing their reactions to whatever is going on around their world. I enjoy the other main elements (world building, plot, writing style, romance, etc.) and the best books incorporate most, if not all, of these things. There are never enough amazing characters for me to love.
When I am struggling with a book what will kill it for me the easiest is that the MC (or at least one of them if there are multiple) drives me crazy. Whether it is flip flopping, showing signs of instalove, being annoying/overly whiny, or any other irritating trait, the main character (and to a lesser extent side ones) can make me hate a book enough to never go back to it or even read it all the way.
A world that is unbelievable (in a bad way), a plot that is convoluted, instalove and love triangles, or flat out poor writing/unappealing writing style, can all be the cause of such a letdown. There needs to be some redeeming qualities for me to stay with the book for long and not quit after 100 pages or less. Regardless of genre it would appear that I am a character driven reader, but what about you?
What kind of reader are you? What one of the major elements of books do you enjoy most, which one has the biggest consistent influence? What makes it difficult to keep reading, what can you not stand in a book? Why have you DNF’d ones you have and what has kept you from doing so to others? Have you ever regretted DNF’ing a book or not doing so when you could/should have?
Do characters inspire you? Do you fall in love with certain plots and never want to leave the story? Do you fall so in love with worlds that you wish you could live there? Do romances take you away and make everything unicorns, butterflies, and rainbows? Does beautiful writing move you to tears (happy or sad)? What element speaks to you most? Let me know! I hope you enjoyed this random post and thanks as always for reading!
AVERY PIKE is a commodity. No, more than a commodity. Her existence is guarded at all costs.
She’s a water Elementalist, the strongest of her dwindling kind. She creates steam to provide energy to fuel Dome Four: the only thing standing between humanity and an earth ravaged by World War III. No steam, no Dome. No Dome, no life.
Or so she thinks.
That is, until a mysterious man offers her a way out of having to donate steam. A way to escape the corrupt government of Dome Four. While the offer seems too good to be true, Avery is intrigued. But when she arrives to her new home, she realizes the grass isn’t any less dead on this side of the fence. Instead, the lies are just hidden better.
…Which means digging deeper.
When Avery enlists the help of her friends to uncover the truth, she learns that while some secrets are better left concealed, humankind was never meant to live in a cage. And when you can control the most sought after resource, you can learn to control anything…including the fate of your world.
I received an eBook Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.
You know what really sucks? Having to cancel being on a blog tour because you don’t like a book. That, in case it wasn’t painfully obvious, is the case here. My review was supposed to go up today and be linked up and all that jazz to tout this piece. Well poop. I figured I’d post my review the same day anyway because why the heck not? Oh, did I mention it is a DNF? This is going so well…
I pushed myself through 50% of the book (according to my Kindle app anyway) until I was fed up enough and closed the darn thing. Why did I give up on Steel Lily and what are the problems with it? The characters are not cookie cutter, they are THE cookie cutter which cuts out all of the others, they are the metallic shells of characters and are hollow on the inside.
Avery, the MC, is incredibly frustrating. She flip flops like crazy, her emotions all over the place and without any semblance of purpose for them half the time. She’s constantly on the verge of tears despite having this “tough girl” persona she’s trying (and failing miserably) to pull off. She gets upset when people try to protect her, refuses to acknowledge it a lot of the time or plays up her actions over theirs in an attempt to appear in control and strong, yet she always acts helpless when the danger strikes. Ugh. Oh and the whining my goodness, get over yourself! She constantly insults other characters, can’t make up her mind for beans, and goodness gracious just GET A GRIP GIRL. I want to throttle her.
Jaxon is your stereotypical hot guy that KNOWS how hot he is, sarcastic, full of himself, you get the point. But he has that inner core that must be so soft and squishy and he can be changed really he can! He just needs help to show his real feelings! *gouges my eyes out* His jokes are bland, he isn’t interesting whatsoever and I just plain didn’t like his character. The best friend, Alice, is no better. She’s reserved one minute and a fireball the next, and her character is never fleshed out in any way. She’s just there, supportive and more often than not a liability, even if no one will admit it.
The romance in the book felt forced. Avery kept saying how attractive she found Jaxon but then would argue with herself about liking him when he’s such an asshat. Just admit he is good looking and that you like him already! You have bad taste in guys but it is your incessant bickering in your head that is bugging me not that you like his muscles, (which apparently are RIPPED on his whole freaking body) ugh. Jaxon, at least, made it clear how he felt early on which was the only thing I appreciated from his character. There was a half-assed love triangle too, but it’s barely worth mentioning.
The plot was as scattered as Avery’s emotions. You constantly jump from one idea to the next as if the author had a bunch of bullet points on a piece of paper and was playing connect the dots. Only this time I don’t know what the heck the shape is supposed to be, it’s just a jumbled mess of lines. There were potential arcs everywhere: political discussion, dystopia, energy discussion, conservation, true freedom vs false realities, the list just keeps going. The problem is Curd couldn’t decide which thing to focus on so she said tiny bits about each instead which meant the reader really gains nothing from it.
Oh and this is supposed to be a steampunk book. While I noticed those elements it really was borderline with going into regular fantasy. The MC just focuses her mind (and power) on things and BOOM. Yes she is “changing elements” so I get the connection, but as I was reading I kept thinking this is more like a superhero unable to control their power or learning how to, I didn’t think that was what steampunk was designed to do. Maybe I’m off base there. Regardless, while there were some descriptions of machinery and what not the steampunk “feel” was never there for me.
I could keep going, about the world building and the domes, the hologram nonsense, the repetitious dialogue (SO MUCH), and a variety of other details about the piece but you get how I feel by now. I didn’t like it. I didn’t finish it. I don’t recommend it. That simple. If you follow the blog you know I hardly ever DNF books but this one deserved it. I’m done. Thanks as always for reading.
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #126/200
Summary From Goodreads:
Sophia’s family has skeletons, but they aren’t in their graves.
At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.
Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she’d settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.
One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor’s hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.
Survival in his world, she learns, means not asking questions and staying out of the immortal council’s way. It’s a line she crossed long ago. If Sophia wants to survive the council and save the people she loves, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.
Before I get into the review if you haven’t already I’d appreciate it if you would read the summary above. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Done? Alright, thank you. Now after reading that how much romance would you expect in this book, lets go with percentages since they are easy. 10%? 25%? 35%? Well when I went into this I thought maybe 10-15%, 20% tops and only because of the beginning of the third paragraph. Boy was I wrong!
If you know me or my blogging/reading tendencies then you’d know I HATE DNF’ing (Did Not Finish) a book. I can’t stand it. I feel like I have to give the book enough of a chance to win me over and that maybe just a bit farther in there will be qualities that I can at least add up to a star or two (or in my case a frodo or two). However, when you add up enough problems eventually they become insurmountable. That’s what happened with The Forever Girl. Why?
Again, if you follow my blog or twitter you’d know the only thing I can’t take more than not finishing a book is insta-love. I detest that “I just met you and already am acting like a love-struck fool and never get over it” way of writing a romance. It’s a cop out, plain and simple, making the characters instantly attracted to each other just rules out actually having to get them to bond or grow together or even as individuals first. Plus it’s cheesy and usually quite shallow, not a good combo if you ask me. So when I saw that The Forever Girl used that kind of romance I was already grating my teeth trying to get through it. However, there were some semi-interesting plot developments going on so I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. The problem was that after I survived through a bit over 50% of the book I had spent ~35% of it dealing with this shallow lovey-dovey excuse for a romance. I’d had enough.
You’d think that would be the worst of it and you’d be right, but that doesn’t mean it was the only flaw, I might have been able to endure that if the writing was superb, the plot intriguing or the characters enticing. The main character, Sophia makes me want to slam my head into a wall. She’s all over Charles immediately and it never stops. Oh sure she “fights off” her physical attraction for a while, but that’s really all the book tells you, no details, and then BOOM she’s fawning over him some more physically and mentally. She’s dependent on the guy in a disturbing way and she’s not the brightest girl either. Simple things tend to confuse her and while I’d like to say she has redeeming qualities to make up for this, really…she just doesn’t. Ugh.
The only halfway-decent part of the book as I briefly touched on two paragraphs ago was the plot. The whole elements and witches and animal transformations was pretty cool. The immortality thing was a letdown just in its further erasing of any need to go into depth. Unfortunately, even this was filled with irritants such as the jotting down of notes by Sophia when we had just finished reading about whatever she was writing in her book. I’m sorry, but an instant recap is so beyond not necessary. It may have helped the authors word count, but it didn’t enrich the story. As the romance kicked up a bazillion notches in intensity the rest of the plot dwindled in meaning or intrigue.
I know this review is harsh, despite my best attempts at keeping it in a civil tone, but that’s the way I saw it. There have to be a bunch of reasons for me to DNF a book, and as you can tell this book was full of them. I wish it were otherwise, I wanted to enjoy it, especially after a kick-ass first sentence, but it was not to be. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone really because if you like that insta-love+romantic driven combination in a supposed fantasy book we really aren’t going to see eye to eye anyhow. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 60!
Summary From Goodreads:
The soulless are always hungry. They prey upon society’s outcasts – the lonely, the desperate, the guilty – feeding upon the rage and lust and fear hidden in these human hearts. Once they find a victim, they are able to erase the boundary between impulse and action, turning an angry thought into murderous rage and a simple desire into manic obsession.Only one person understands the danger. Evander Calhoun has spent a lifetime protecting his unsuspecting neighbors from these evil spirits, but – after a nearly a century of service – the old man no longer has the strength to continue the fight. He must find a replacement. But, despite the fact that Evander’s master was a nearly crippled, illiterate, farmhand, Evander staunchly refuses to consider anyone but a strong, young male for an apprentice. In fact, he is so blinded by prejudice that he is apt to overlook the best chance he has of saving his beloved town.
This review will be short and to the point, not because it is intentionally “Hobbit-sized”, but because of the nature of the review itself. The Soulless, sadly, is the first DNF or Did Not Finish of the year.
I had won the book months ago and was wary right away about reading it since it wasn’t really drawing me in, but it was a short book and I thought it could work around the Superbowl. Unfortunately my fears turned out to be justified. The Soulless has characters that are flat and uninteresting, a plot that jumps from one point of view to another faster than a bunny rabbit and dull dialogue. Also, I’m not normally one to nitpick on things like names of characters and such but “Moses Farmer” was as unoriginal as it gets, no thank you. I tried pushing through but after about halfway I gave up. There wasn’t anything endearing about The Soulless to make me even have the slightest desire to continue.
As for how this affects challenges and such, I still count it as a book for my 365 in 365 since I did pass the midway point. Even though I did not finish I made every attempt to and I feel no qualms about including it. Hopefully tomorrow I will read a much more enticing book, but if nothing else I’m glad I got this one out of the way. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 35!