Thursday, October 29, 2015

The 30-Day Writing Challenge: A Book I Loved and a Book I Didn't

You already know, Dear Readers, that I am a voracious reader. I'll read just about anything, although I'm especially fond of history, social studies, and current events. On the fiction side, I prefer "good" science fiction and fantasy,* historical fiction, and alternative history**.

The 30-Day Writing Challenge topic I picked for today is "A book you love and one you didn't."

This is not an easy topic, as there are very many books that I can truthfully say I love. On thinking about it, I narrowed the choice to about five, then tossed a few mental coins to make a final decision ...

The book I love is The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It's a complex and beautifully-written story about two magicians who carry on a competition over many years, waged through their proteges, two young illusionists who find themselves in a swirling mix of magic and illusion, love and hate, that they only dimly realize. Their contest is played out in the context of a magical circus that mysteriously appears and disappears on its own mysterious schedule, and is populated by strange and wonderful people. It's difficult to synopsize the complex plot, but suffice it to say that the ending is all one could wish for. This is a great story.

For the book I didn't love, I've chosen the new one by David Lagercrantz, The Girl in the Spider's Web. It's the sequel to the three-volume "Millenium Series" by Stieg Larsson, and features the further adventures of the Swedish hacker and bizarre character Lisbeth Salander. I really enjoyed the original three books and had high hopes for the new one, but was disappointed. I found the plot to be contrived and the characters to be shallow. So much could have been done with the material and plot hooks left in the original stories, but I just don't think it was well executed. What a bummer ... I hope the next one will be better.

So there you are: a book I love and a book I didn't. What are yours? Leave a comment and let me know, or write it up in your own blog. Inquiring minds want to know.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for more Great Moments in Editing.

More thoughts then.


* By "good" science fiction and fantasy I mean books with interesting plots and believable detail, realistic dialog, and characters I care about. Too many current sci-fi and fantasy authors seem to think that all you need is characters with weird names, and lots of adjectives to cover up the fact that the plot is threadbare. I like George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" (the "Game of Thrones") series and, of course, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, both of which are internally consistent, populated with characters you care about (or detest, like Cersi Lannister), and full of detail that brings the stories to vivid life.

** Check out The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove for a good example.


Mariette said...

I liked Wolf Hall, by Hillary Mantel. It made an excellent series too.

A disappointing read was Life After Life, by Susan Atkinson. The book skipped around too much.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The Jane Austen Book Club was a book I enjoyed. It was romantic in a different way. I read a book by W. E. B. Griffin about a well-connected superpoliceman that seemed too contrived - The Vigilantes

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

I tried The Girl in the Spider's Web too; and found it to be a poor sequel.

Currently reading Floaters by Joseph Wambaugh.