Books That Made Me Say, “Meh.”
I’m getting close to caught up such that there’s a reasonable gap between finishing a book and writing its review (say, 5-7 days instead of a month). So, to help myself along, and also to write some reviews that I don’t have a lot to say about, I thought it was time for another Quick Takes. These are all books that are not awful, and in many cases, I can’t even point to any one thing that I didn’t like; however, they just didn’t have a spark for me. Since it’s sort of a less exciting subject, I’m including suggestions of similar books to read instead.
Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: the True Tale of Sleeping Beauty by Jane Yolen
There isn’t much to say about this. The “True Tale” in the title makes me think that it will be an innovative or motivation-revealing retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Instead, it’s more of an origin story. Basically all of the story takes place before the christening, let alone the spindle. Maybe a lot of my problem is an advertising problem rather than a story problem, but I didn’t think that the story was that great. Very predictable. Also, really insistent on traditional gender roles.
I have read other Yolen that I liked much better.
Read instead: Francesca Lia Block’s fairy tale retellings, Robin McKinley
Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
I’m sad to say this, because I think Oliver is a rising star of YA lit, but this book, despite some delightful characters, felt like ground that’s been tread over too many times. I’ve seen lots of other similar stories.
Read Instead: Coraline, Fairyland books by Catherynne Valente, watch Labyrinth.
Freakling by Lana Krumwiede
I was trying to figure out what about this book made it so unremarkable to me, and I think it’s the characters. The worldbuilding is awesome, and I loved it. However, the characters felt like cutouts, like stereotypes. I just couldn’t identify with them, not even Taemon (the MC). I may actually give this series another chance, based on the worldbuilding alone.
Read Instead: Chalice by Robin McKinley (can you tell I love her?), Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman
Journey Between Worlds by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
This one may not deserve to be on this list, because it’s good for what it is. It’s a coming-of-age/romance, and as that, it’s fine. I was just hoping for a little more, since I remembered the author’s Enchantress from the Stars as being a bit more profound (but it’s been years, so could be misremembering/reading differently nowadays). Don’t read it prepared to focus on science, because you won’t get it. Apart from some Star Trek: TOS-era ideas (it was originally published in 1970 (space travel=world peace, criminals commit crime because they are criminals, and “normal” people won’t commit crimes if they are fed and housed)), there’s really nothing wrong with it. If you want a sweet romance in an uncommon setting, read it!
Read Instead: Well, Enchantress from the Stars, I think.
All were borrowed from work.