Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When was the last time a book surprised you?

When I pick up a book, I try not to have expectations. Expectations are rarely met. You expect to love something, and it never measures up to what you expected. You start something thinking it'll be awful, and you can't put it down.

There's a series of books I like. Never been disappointed in any of them. There's nothing particularly special about the series. The books are kind of formulaic. But the writing is good, and I like the lead character.

A couple of years ago I picked up one of the books in the series that I hadn't read yet. I started reading it and about halfway through I had to put it down. It was awful. The plot was thin, and the main character spent chapter after chapter roaming around doing nothing.

I could feel the writer trying to figure out what to do next. I was terribly disappointed. And I was surprised. This is someone who hadn't let me down before. I could rely on this guy to keep me entertained for a few hundred pages.

That leads us to today's question. When was the last time a book surprised you? And this can be surprising in a good way or bad way.


  1. The Brief & Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was incredibly underwhelming.

  2. Thanks, Anonymous. That's a book I meant to pick up, but I just never got to it. What was underwhelming about it?

    1. The footnotes were especially tedious, and the book had no idea of what it wanted to be. An ode to a fat sci-fi nerd? A history of the Dominican Republic and Trujillo's reign of blood? Both interesting subjects, to be sure... And maybe, just maybe, if I wasn't such a lazy slouch, there was a connection to be made there. Maybe Diaz was on to something, but I just couldn't find the thread. Thus, I got bored. Skimmed and jumped around until I got frustrated and tossed it aside. There were definitely parts I enjoyed--the POV from Oscar's cousin, Yunior (a voice very similar to the voice in DROWN). Other parts that just touched me the wrong way. One thing I can say about the book was that it got me thinking about my own writing. Most books do, though, so maybe that's not such a great distinction...