You know, there was a time when I used to review books. What a royal waste of time that was. I stopped after reading a particular self-published book that I thought was a piece of garbage and ranted about how awful it was. I felt bad about it afterwards and made a sorta promise to either say something nice or nothing at all going forward. I mean, I write too. It takes guts and a thick skin to put your stuff out there for the world to judge. What if someone read my book and not only didn’t like, but actively went out there and called me hack. Ugh.
So, I try not to review books anymore. If I only say nice things about books then who would believe me if I never mentioned a book that I didn't like? I want to be an author, a published one, it feels like a conflict of interest for me to be judging the worth of something. Especially if I’m not too certain I can handle if it were my work being judged so harshly. However, sometimes something comes up and I want to just say a few words about it. I think I’ll try to refrain from reviewing books by folks I know, even nominally, and probably avoid most small press/indie authors altogether. But I feel like reviewing something from one of the big boys is fair game for now.
So, I’ve read Patrick Rothfuss’ books over the past couple of months. Is it possible for novels to annoy you and thrill you at the same time? I love the world, the story, and the characters. But I get that sinking feeling that the author is trying to drive a point home to me, the reader, and is almost mocking me for not being smarter.
The story of these books are essentially the life and times of the greatest Wizard to ever live, I guess. A legend that is spoken of with hushed awes by anyone who ever speaks of him at all. I guess it’s like the respect given to Voldemort – but if he were a good guy. Well, I guess that makes him more like Harry Potter.
In fact, I don’t think that’s a bad comparison, *spoiler alert* he’s an orphan. His young life after losing his parents is awful. He goes to a school of wizarding where he learns, often better than his professors, how to wield magic. All while trying to discover why his parents were killed.
I get annoyed with the story though because a pattern starts to develop early on where he starts off poor and ignorant, then learns until he either becomes quite competent at something, or masters it altogether, falls ass first into money, then he gets swept away into a new environment or setting, becoming penniless and ignorant all over again. Rest assured, he'll build his way up to greatness again.
The ways that this pattern becomes annoying is that each segment is so detached from the previous, the books feel more like a series of loosely connected novellas moreso than true novels. At times I wondered why in the world he wouldn't use the skills he developed in an earlier part of the book to help himself during latter portions when those skills could have been used to save himself from a lot of grief.
And eventually, I grew tired of it. Not so tired that I stopped reading, but tired enough that I as soon as he would wrap up some dilemma I would hope the remainder of the book was was going to focus on some of the larger story threads the author introduced. But no, just another adventure. There were too many coincidences in his life for me to fall hook line and sinker into the world of these books.
They’re good, I’d recommend them, but they aren’t perfect.