Last night, I finished reading a novel that I started sometime last August or September. It isn’t because I’m slow at reading by any means. I can usually, when Life allows, plow through the average novel in a day or so. The reason this particular novel took so long to complete is because I couldn’t find a redeemable character anywhere in it.
The novel, based upon historical accounts of actual events, was well put together. As I was reading it, though, I couldn’t help thinking how loathsome the characters were. When reading a novel, I’d like something to identify with, cheer for, and look forward to. None of that was present here. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do understand that not all endings will be happy ones and the reality of the young woman upon which the novel was based wasn’t all daisy chains and cartwheels. However, since this was categorized as historical fiction, there had to be SOME leeway at some point to craft a character that I didn’t wish would hurry and die the most painful of deaths…multiple times.
As I finished the novel – and the only reason I didn’t throw it into the trash is that I was reading it on my Kindle – lots of things went through my mind. Once I sorted through the expletives, I was left with two coherent points:
- I couldn’t be an author if I didn’t love reading. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been reading since I was two years old and it’s been a joy to me ever since. I firmly believe that my love of reading, and of the creative process, is what shaped me as a writer. This is purely my opinion, but I find it hard to take serious someone who decides to undertake the joys of writing when they don’t like to read. To me, reading is how you learn. Reading is a means of growth. Reading opens the mind to so much that one would otherwise miss if they didn’t do it.
- I am very invested in my characters – even those that might be considered the villains. There are characters in both Duality as well as the novel coming after it that I simply cannot stand. I have even cussed myself out at some of the things they’ve done, and it’s my fault they’re doing it! I do my best to balance them out, though, with other characters that take some of the sting or bite out of what the villains have gotten up to. When thinking of the novel that I’ve just finished reading, I’m hard-pressed to understand how the author was satisfied with the balance, or lack thereof. Who was she angry with when she wrote that thing, because just about everyone in it got the molten middle finger?
Of course, one might wonder why I came back to the novel if it was so bad. The simple answer is that I was hoping for some redemption, even in the form of another character not entirely based on reality. Like I’ve mentioned, I know that this novel was a fictional account of a true occurrence. However, I found myself feeling like the little kid from The Princess Bride.
I was also hoping to see some glimmer of the cleverness that attracted me to this particular author to begin with. I have read – and I’m not kidding – 16 of this woman’s books. I guess that has given me a certain expectation, and this novel fell well short of what I’ve come to know and love. What saddens me is that this is her swansong on this particular period of history. She’s now moving on to something else, and I feel a tad let down by this final bow.
No matter how busy I am with life or the novels, I will always enjoy making time for reading, and I have another novel that came highly recommended that I plan to peek at sometime tomorrow. I will always love reading, perhaps just as much as I love writing, and intertwined with the new offerings I’ve been enjoying, there are a handful of books that I’ve read to pieces – some of them literally – that now have space on my Kindle so that I can go back and reread them at least once a year.
Yeah – Fun and Mental.