03 December 2010
This week's question from Book Blogger Hop: What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?
I generally don't post reviews on my blog for books that I don't care for. Some may say that's the coward's way out; I say it's the courteous one. Foremost, I'm a reader, not a book reviewer. Secondly, I'm a bookseller, which means I frequently need to read books that aren't really my thing in order to do my job well. Just because I'm not a fan of a book doesn't mean it's not a good one (and vice versa).
Of all of the hype in bookselling this past year, however, there is one title that looms large for me as being a shuddering disappointment. Books that try too hard to appeal to everybody by crossing as many genres as possible almost inevitably fail, in my opinion. And this year there was one book that had everybody buzzing: it was epic, it was literary, it was a thriller, it was a survival tale, it was apocalyptic, it was a biting commentary on the military industrial complex and humanity's overweening pride, it was part one of a trilogy, it was VAMPIRES like you've never seen before. Of course, I'm talking about Justin Cronin's book, The Passage. Did I read? Of course. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was a job requirement, but it was pretty close.
Did I like it? Well, bits.
Did it keep me up at night? Perhaps a few minutes.
Could any book have lived up to its hype? I seriously doubt it.
Will I read the continuing trilogy? Probably.
But here's the thing. You can't have a page-turning thriller AND a book that waxes on about dust for several paragraphs. You can't be literary AND be filled with trite language. You can't be all things to all people. And that's mostly why The Passage was hard to get through. I skimmed at least 200 of its pages. It needed a much better editor. And I think the author should decide which audience he really wants to play to, since it's impossible to play to all of them with any level of success.