Monday, June 17, 2013

The Six Most Disappointing Books of All Time

The Six Most Disappointing Books of All Time

6.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – I’ll freely admit that I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series.  I don’t think that they are the life-changing opi that so many people claim, but they are tasty tasty brain candy.  Sweet, substance less, completely pleasurable, and fun to roll around on your tongue.  So, I went out the day the final book in the series was released (not at midnight – I had a newborn) but that day and bought the book and settled in for a good read.  What a disappointment.  I mean, there were sections that I thoroughly enjoyed, and moments of absolute brilliance, but by and large I was disappointed.  I mean, that whole “I dare” conversation  It was terrible!  It was poorly written, emotionless, and very unHarry.  “Yes, I’ve come back from the dead and I’ve brought with me the unbreakable power of – mockery.” What?  Then there’s the endless refrain. Yes, love, love is the answer, love is all you need.  After  pounding this point for thousands of pages there was no big “ah-ha” moment, just the dessicated remains of what was once a horse corpse.   Then, to out Dumbledore in interviews in the weeks after the release struck me as a desperate ploy for publicity.  Which really, she didn’t need.  I mean, have you seen potterheads?  Not that I care that Dumbledore was a homosexual, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, love who you love and all of that. But, if it was important enough for your to announce in a press conference, it should have been important enough to make that fact, and its connotations, clear in your writing. 

5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner – I had so been looking forward to this book.  I had read Faulkner before and had thoroughly enjoyed his works.  I loved the significance of the title.  The next thing I know I am slogging through the special hell that is the first third of this novel, reading each passage over and over in the hopes that this time it will make sense.  They never did. Starting the book with stream of consciousness from the point of view of a mentally retarded man is just not a good idea.  I mean, listen, people with special needs are beautiful people with beautiful minds who are worthy of respect and love and representation in literature. But SOC is hard in any circumstance, and portraying an individual with special needs is difficult to do well, and to begin a novel with hundreds of pages of such is catastrophic.  It brought me to tears.  Then, to add insult to injury, a paper I wrote about this novel got me the only “F” I ever received on any writing assignment ever.  I had read and reread and reread.  I had researched what other people had written about the novel.  I wrote this amazing piece building what I thought was a fairly well-reasoned argument that the primary character was in fact  the author’s representation of a Christ figure.  And she failed me and told me I made no sense.  I have kept the novel.  I keep thinking that someday I will read it again and that years and maturity will give me an insight.  I’m not sure if it will work, though, as every time I see the cover I just start to cry, so I haven’t reread it yet.  In fact, I think I need to move on now. 

4.  Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.  In some translations, the title of this book translates into “Pedophilia is Really Bad and Effects Generations.”  Not really, but it should.  This book received raving reviews, enough so that I thought it might be good, but not enough that I became skeptical, and so I was very hopeful.  Good grief!  Listen, art imitates life and incest and pedophilia do happen and do have tragic, long-reaching results.  So, if done with taste and respect I can understand using them as part of a larger plot (though I highly recommend reading Apex Magazine for the article of “How to Effectively Write About Rape.”  I wish I had an author or a date, but I don’t right now.) but holy moly.  Second verse same as the first for page after page after page until more than anything you begin to become desensitized to the horror.  That is never a good thing.

3. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb – What an awesome premise; what a mixed up, mangled mess. How many different issues can you cram into a book, even one of this length.  Then, with that much backstory, that much lead-up, that many characters you’d think there would be some sort of huge climactic moment.  But, no.  There’s really nobody that you care enough about by that point to have any sort of emotional investment.  It was irritating, because after investing that much time and after being as excited as I was, I felt like I was owed a good ending.  But no, ‘twas not to be. 

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger – This cat was emo before emo was cool.  Yes, pimps get mad when you don’t pay them.  Your ED is not their problem.  Beyond that, first world problems, dude.  I hear this book changed a lot of people’s lives.  I, for one, could not even finish it.

  1. The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Gah! Grrrrrr! Roar!  I find it difficult to even find appropriate words to convey my frustration with this ridiculous excuse for a book.  What a horrible way to end what began as an amazing series with some of the best characters ever created. Where to begin?  Let’s start with how Eddie Dean died. Not that he died, mind you, but how he died.  He died because he was shot while in a gunslinger group hug.  I don’t care how touchy-feely emotional they have become, no gunslinger ever would engage in a group hug without making sure everyone was truly dead.  Double tap, baby.  It would not happen.  Then there’s the deus ex machina.  Simply stating that you are not a good writer and that that particular gimmick has been a favorite of sub-par writers throughout all of time does not make the level to which it was taken acceptable.  It doesn’t.  Then there’s Dandelo and the resulting kid with the eraser.  Really?  The biggest baddest villain of a multiverse is taken down by an eraser and a character introduced in the last 300 pages?  Pathetic.  Horrible.  Argh.

So, those are my picks.  What are yours?

1 comment:

  1. You're fussy. Holden Caulfield embodies the ennui and spiritual vacuum that are the central problems in the lives of many alienated American adolescents. Perhaps those of us who enjoyed more popularity and acceptance in our youth find it difficult to connect with such a character.