Friday, February 06, 2009

Stranger, tell the Spartans this book sucked

Yeah, whew, Gates of Fire is going right back on Paperback Swap. Ah, well, one experimental author to cross off the list.

Sadly, the next book I chose based on the "how bad could it be?" standard is also turning out to be disappointing. Anyone who knows how I read knows I have an enduring fondness for Jean Auel's Earth's Children series, aka The Clan of the Cavebear books, aka, Ayla Discovers Everything books. I forgive her for some of her repetitious styles, for her stunningly overblown and dreadfully dull sex scenes, and even for Ayla, well, discovering everything but the internal combustion engine. (Soon to come in Book 8?)

Why? Because man, that woman can write awesome descriptions. Those books are, for me, the guide to that age, in geography, weather, botany, wildlife - in clothing styles and food gathering and cooking and medicine. When I read Auel, I can taste the ptarmigan wrapped in hay and stuffed with herbs, baked all day in a slow oven. I can see the vastness of a steppe and the grandeur of a continent sized glacier. In fact, when I saw my first glacier up close, my first thought was, "It's just like she described."

But because of my fondness for those books and the meticulous research which went into their structure and the inventions of the author, it's hard for me to appreciate other books like them. Every time I would consider buying one, I'd stop and think, "If this isn't as good as Cavebear, I am gonna be very annoyed I spent ten bucks on it."

But now that I am trading books for what is essentially postage, I decided I will take a risk now and then and try another author or genre. This next book is one of the risks. And at page 75, I am not that impressed.

I picked up People of the Wolf (The First North Americans series, Book 1). I figured, hey, it's written by archeologists. They sound like people who would know Cool Stuff. And since it's "the majestic saga of the first Canadians," I won't be amused to find out that the male romantic lead is actually...French.

But so far, what I have is a lot of people named things like One Who Cries and Dancing Fox and for all I know, Motion of Light In Water will come in the next chapter. And I can hardly keep them straight. not a good sign. Give me some clues as to what they look like, who they are, something to differentiate them. And please, save me from the twin brothers destined to be lifelong enemies from birth. (You know the "bad" one has no reason to do what he does - he just has to. As he tells people, over and over.)

Arggh. Dunno if I will last on this one through the whole thing. I like a story with a villain as much as anyone, but at least give me a reason.

I may need a palate cleanser after this one.

I think the worst part of reading books I don't enjoy is that they make me wonder if I am guilty of the things I am complaining about. Am I describing place, time, and persons as well as I should? Do I make people different enough, interesting enough?

Anyway, back to the wolfies for a while.

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