Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unpaid Critic

Last weekend I began to read His Dark Materials, a trilogy billed as the Satanic version of Lord of the Rings. I’ve heard a lot about the author’s brilliance, that it is a classic in Britain, and also how it attacks god or religion or something and it should never be allowed to fall into the hands of our children because this book will have more effect on them than years of parenting and will force them to grow up to become Atheist serial killing abortionist Democrat anti-American poo-poo heads, or even worse – independent thinkers. So far I have no complaints. Then I actually started reading the book.

I wonder why nobody ever said the book is BORING! Does the LitCrit establishment love it too much to allow that kind of comment? I feel very comfortable in saying that there are a lot of great ideas and imagination in here, unfortunately forced to serve limp writing and plodding plot devices that could make the story of 9/11 sound like a mechanic’s report on plane failure. (“Plane fall down. Building fall down. This is bad. Lengthy description of the English countryside to follow.”) I think the primary problem is that the lead character is a young girl operating in a fantasy world that, much like reality, doesn’t allow a young girl to do much of significance. Instead of a point of view dominated by children (like Harry Potter), we get to follow the non-adventures of a girl who not only misses the adventures of others, but only gets to eavesdrop or talk about the after briefing. The Three Musketeers? Great entertainment. Hearing great-grandfather D'Artagnan regale you with summarized tales of his youth? Not so much. “Don’t worry, children, I survived.”

I skipped ahead and discovered three things. 1) She finally begins to do stuff about halfway through the first book, which is too much of a setup for any return. 2) I had no problem following the story even though I only read about half of the pages, which is not a good sign. 3) I didn’t care. I keep hoping I’ll turn the page and read that everyone was massacred by chainsaw-wielding Giant Atomic Chickens™ and that the rest of the pages will contain outlines for me to trace and color in, but that probably won’t happen. I may keep reading now that some almost interesting things are happening, but for now I’m switching to some reliable entertainment – 外人.


Tai said...

I read 'em. They were okay. They're definately not the best written books in the world.
Bring on the chainsaws!

Tai said...

I read 'em. They were okay. They're definately not the best written books in the world.
Bring on the chainsaws!

Joe said...

Makes you wonder if the whole thing was an ad campaign by a publisher tricked into paying the author for such crappy writing.

Patti said...

As much as I LOVE reading (and I DO) I will NOT force myself to read a book. No sirree. It better reach out and grab me by the throat from the get-go or it's in the bin to Goodwill. Let some homeless or poor person struggle through it. Meh.

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I'm with Patti... I can't force myself to read a book if I'm not into it.

Funny you mention the chainsaw thing. I once was writing a story and it was going nowhere so I had all the characters killed off at the same time.

Sad...but very satisfying in a weird way too...;)

Avitable said...

The first one is definitely slow until about 2/3rds of the way through. I didn't feel compelled to buy the next book in the series, though.

Kira said...

Well, so much for using that as a tool to corrupt my children. They won't be interested in it from what you described.

I have huge issues with lit snobs, which is funny because I'm an English lit professor. But it's like this last article I read by Harold Bloom, a highly regarded English professor...his whole point was that people are idiots for buying Harry Potter, there's no redeeming value to the books unless you absolutely WON'T read anything else and it forces you to read SOMETHING beyond the back of a cereal box, and then (I know you'll love this one, Grant!) that Rowling can't write just like Steven King. They both just sell a lot of books to dumb down the world, and they are rotten pieces of literature.

Needless to say, sometimes lit snobs just have their heads up their asses.

~Deb said...

I was just about to talk about Harry Potter- when I came across the reference about it, ... They made a huge fuss about the demonic overtones of this book, when it was actually fantasy. What about the other books/movies/fairytales that have witches and "bad people" in them? Christians were bashing Rowlings for the longest time over her books & movies saying it was a bad influence for their children.

I never read "His Dark Materials", but sometimes I'd rather simplistic writing, other than somebody using extremely "over the top" vocabulary where every word is looked up on Dictionary.com ...but then again, maybe it's me who needs to brush up on her grammer...grammar... yeh.


Giant Atomic Chickens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

グラント said...

tai - I agree. I've seen worse, but I am thoroughly unimpressed.

tai - I'm seeing double today.

joe - I suspect the Catholic church. What with the Harry Potter series finished, they need a new enemy.

patti - I use Stephen King's formula. I read 10% into the book and if I'm putting more into it than I'm getting back, we part ways.

pq - that sounds better than The Golden Compass.

avitable - I bought the trilogy as one volume, but I'm now holding it in reserve until I find myself with nothing to read.

kira - it could corrupt your kids. It's the perfect thing to have the school force upon them so they form the opinion that reading is lame and boring.

~deb - xtians often seem to make a fuss over the wrong things, such as Harry Potter, Dogma (which actually had faith), and His Dark Materials, which nobody actually seems to like except the critics, and they're already evil.

Gib said...

Given that the movie was, at best, adequate, and reading interviews with the author led me to suspect that maybe he was more interested in getting his (lack of) theology across than actually telling a story.

グラント said...

gib - his anti-xtian views have not come across strongly thus far, although I've skipped about half of what I've read. I think he may have shot himself in the foot by running his mouth, however. The controversy seems to have actually hurt his sales, which is fine by me.