Monday, November 22, 2010

Rescue Me from Reader’s Purgatory, Please!

Currently, I’m suffering a reader’s purgatory wherein every novel I read is mundane with cardboard characters, a plodding plot, or uninspired writing. Let me tell you about it: 

I read a book which is a young adult paranormal novel about a girl who falls in love with a young, mysterious, fallen angel. I liked the premise and thought it might be wildly, wickedly romantic and entertaining. A week after I read the book, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Not one. To tell you this much about it, I had to look it up online. I can’t recommend a book that is so unremarkable. I still don’t know how the title relates to the story, but the best thing about the book was the cover and the promising title, Hush, Hush. Perhaps you’ve read it.

I noticed Nicholas Sparks has a new book published and thought it would be great for my next book review. It’s called Safe Haven and tells the story of a woman with a secret and a good guy who falls very quickly in love with her. I delight in a love story where the reader can savor the clever dialogue between the couple as the romance builds. This is not that story. These characters fall in love ‘kerplunk’ as if they need to fall in love with someone….any highly attractive, nice person will do. The story is reminiscent of one of the lesser Hallmark Channel movies...been there, done that. The young woman’s secret is an abusive husband. There are details of the abuse that I really didn’t want to read about. Too tell the truth, I decided to do something I hardly ever do—I decided not to finish the book. I glanced at the end and realized there is a twist to it…maybe that and the author’s reputation will create some interest for you to read the book.

Because Safe Haven was commonplace, I began a search for a book with the promise of more excitement. I came across an online article about a new book that Steven Spielberg is developing a film from-- a posthumously published novel by the late Michael Crichton. Perfect! Remembering the uniqueness and thrill of Jurassic Park, I decided to read Pirate Latitudes. The first few chapters introduce the flavor of the often lewd, coarse 17th century living conditions, customs and habits of the residents of Port Royal, Jamaica. I could tell from the details that Michael Crichton had done his historical research. Captain Charles Hunter selects his pirate crew according to their various talents to aid in seizing a Spanish treasure galleon anchored at an impregnable Spanish harbor, guarded by a garrison of soldiers with a particularly nasty villain in charge. What follows is one adventure after another. Yet, the adventures are superficial and seem hurried. And the characters seem flat. I didn’t care if they triumphed or not. Again, I did something I rarely do—skipped to the end after reading two thirds of the book. Since this story was found on the author’s computer after he died, I’m wondering if it was actually not ready for publication. Perhaps, it is a comprehensive outline and would have had more depth of character and plot had the author finished it.

So, here I am once more, an avid reader on a quest for an exceptional book--exciting, memorable, fresh. Perhaps you can help with a recommendation of which I will be most grateful.