Highly praised, but dull

I finished listening to The Magicians by Lev Grossman on audio this evening. Had it not been for the fact that I’d gotten the audio version of this book (and the fact that the iPhone plays in double speed), I might never have made it to the end. I wanted to like this book. It had a good buzz surrounding it and an interesting premise, but honestly it annoyed the crap out of me. I spent so much time being annoyed, I never really found anything to love about this book. The characters were all selfish drunks and the story didn’t appear to accomplish anything. Now, there are occasions when I do love stories that just float along with no goal as long as the scenery is pretty or the characters entertaining. I just couldn’t find that sense of wonder that I look for in a fantasy book. The praise on the back of the book and from some of the reviews I’ve read has been quite lofty, almost making me feel like I’d missed something. Maybe it is my childhood dislike of Narina or my exceptions that magic should be special that spoiled the my enjoyment of The Magicians. I’d say that all the drinking and bad relationships and pointless conversations reminded me of Hemingway, but I don’t like him either. I really wanted to enjoy this book, and now I’m twice as bummed that it was lack luster and pointless.

The book I took on vacation with me was The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce. I’d seen him speak at the World Fantasy Convention. He was funny and entertaining – a real joy to listen to. I’d been meaning to get to one of his books for a while, so I chose The Tooth Fairy. Every chapter is mildly compelling, if completely bizarre. It is probably that bizarreness that will pull me through to the end one day in hopes of finding out how the whole thing will fit together. One day, as in not today or tomorrow, or probably even the next day. It just turns me off in a sort of low grade queasy way laced with disinterest. Maybe The Tooth Fairy is a book that requires more energy and focus that the hurry-wait-distraction of airports and planes allows me. Some of the reviews did admit that the book could be a little confusing. I’ve lost interest for the moment. For the moment, I know longer want to know why the little boy lost his toes, the whole school yard passes out, or the Tooth Fairy is even around.

I’ve assembled a new set of bookshelves today. In the midst of filling them with new and read books alike, I am looking for something else to read. But, what? Reading a good book sends me into another at full speed, reading a bad book slows me to a halt. What will jump start my want to read again?


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