This year I challenged myself to read at least 60 books on the Goodreads 2013 Challenge, a feat I’m thoroughly enjoying until I stumble on the occasional disappointing book. We have what appears to be a tradition, developing here at CW, to round up our top reads in January (of the previous year) and to round up our worst reads. Sadly, I’ve already dumped several books so far and we’re only half way through 2013. So rather than wait till the start of 2014 to let you know about them – I’d like to offer you reasons why to stir away from these titles – as I’m confident that by the end of the year, I’ll probably have another list to share.
1. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss: What the hell happened Mr. Rothfuss? How sad to be into this series and abandon it half way through the second book. I’m not claiming the first book was well-written, as there seems to be a standard in the fantasy genre of how bad writing should be and everyone insists on keeping up this standard. I suppose if I want to read a fantasy novel on occasion, then I do so at my own peril. I can live with that. But when the writing deteriorates from chapter to chapter, and when I’ve already read the previous book which is no where nearly as bad as this, then I get pissed. Really pissed.
Readers beware, this is mind-numbing prose with dragged out scenes and the worst kind of writing possible. I’d encourage Mr. Rothfuss to sign up to a creative writing workshop 101 and just grasp the basics of the craft before unleashing another mammoth 1000+ page book into this world. Have mercy and spare the trees because it’s really not worth it. Why am I bashing this book? Repetitive phrases in a scene, every tag has to have a new adverb: he said bitingly, she said chillingly, he demanded abruptly… there are hundreds of these, stage directions with each line of dialogue, and of course, the myriad synonyms for looking and smiling. And let’s not forget to add every cliché possible – ‘he stared daggers’. Despite my editor’s heart imploding, I tried to overlook all of this for the sake of the plot. But this is where Mr. Rothfuss disappointed me further as Kvothe (the protagonist) develops ever so slowly and the whole trip out of the academy and all the scenes about the Maer were such nonsense compared to the previous plot lines… and they just wouldn’t end! Everything is so repetitive. My second advise to Mr. Rothfuss, please fire your current editor and hire an entire top-notch team, you’ll need them. 500 pages into the book and I’m throwing it into the recycle bin.
2. Labors of the Heart by Claire Davis: This started out promising with well written prose on relationship stories. But 60 pages into the book, on the fourth story, I felt I was reading the same thing over and over. The style of writing and story construction is the same in each story and quickly becomes monotonous. It’s so easy to read this passively without being engaged in the prose. The characters’ situations are the focus here, leaving me completely detached from the characters themselves. Worst of all, the narrative drift between each line of dialogue drove me nuts: someone says something then the narrator tells us what the character thinks or feels about it, or gives us a flashback or fills in the details of the story, before the next line of dialogue begins. And this continues as long as there is dialogue… I’m sorry, but that defies the whole concept of dialogue.
3. Coven of the Cursed by Mitrani David: A collection of short stories that are highly pretentious mixed with a wanna-be magical realism like style, which resulted in unsympathetic and, at times, shallow characters. Many of the stories involve a sexual element in the most awkward of manners – a sort of free association – that resulted in a jarring read.