Saturday, May 14, 2011


Literary Blog Hop


Literary Blog Hop:
May 12 - 15




The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by The Blue Bookcase! This week's question is:


What books have you read that have been hyped as literary and, in your opinion, were not?


I generally try to avoid books that are being "hyped as literary" (or hyped in general).  One exception that I made was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  (Before going further I feel I need to alert the many who loved this book that I did not.)  I still remember seeing the book in a bookstore near Union College in Schenectady New York.  The promotional material and the blurbs on the dust jacket convinced me that this was not only literary, but it was a mystery with books at its core.  The opening chapter seemed to confirm this conviction;  but, alas, this novel soon soared to the top of my list for books that failed to meet my expectations. 
 After a wonderful and mysterious opening with what seemed to be a tremendous premise the book meandered off into mediocrity.  To say that I found this book disappointing would be an understatement. The author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, has written a book with many plots and subplots that do not seem to cohere in a reasonable fashion. The result is ultimately dissatisfying. The language of the novel was strange at best, but too often trite or hackneyed. Neither the scenes of violence (both graphic and jarring) nor the love scenes were portrayed successfully. While the notion of a "Cemetery of forgotten books" is a lovely one, appealing to this reader, it was ignored for much of the novel which seemed to be appended to the concept rather than connected with it. The novel seemed to slow down in the middle without sufficient suspense to support it. A much better book with a similar theme is Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas. It is both more suspenseful and better written - a delightful, if not truly great, read.

10 comments:

Melody said...

I'm not familiar with the book you mention, but I do identify with trying to avoid hyped books in general. Reading a book that has been hyped up is generally a guarantee I'll be disappointed.

James said...

Thanks for the comment. This book was doubly disappointing considering it had the mystery of books as an important motif.

gautami tripathy said...

I was thinking of buying it. Now I will not wast my good money on it!

Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

petekarnas said...

Interesting post. I've heard lots of good things about this and I have a copy lying around that I haven't yet picked up. I'll still probably give it a go, but it's good to hear a differing point of view.

James said...

Thanks for your comment. There are certainly many books to read that are likely to outshine this one.

leeswammes said...

This is a book I did like, but not thoroughly enjoyed like some people. As it was just OK with me, I don't remember too much about in in terms of literary merit or anything else.

I personally read just about anything, from literary works to jam jars, so I don't get upset when the writing is not quite as good as I hoped. On the other hand, I don't read Harlequin type books because I will get upset about the writing, for sure. :-)

James said...

Thanks for your comment. I also try to avoid novels that I believe will not meet my standards, but this was one where the hype blunted any skepticism I may have had. It took me by surprise that it was not what I expected it would be.

thebookstop said...

I agree with your post. This is a book so many people love, which is why I read it, but ultimately found it unsatisfying. It's exactly the kind of book I normally love so I was surprised when I didn't.

parrish lantern said...

This is a book that's sat in front of me on my tbr bookshelves, waiting to be read, so hopefully I'll find some merit in it or it's for the mooch.luckily books are acquired for me own interest regardless of perceived merit.

James said...

Thanks for your comments.
The bookstop: I appreciate the presence of one more reader who was disappointed by this book.
Parrish lantern: By all means, give it a chance - my disappointment is a minority opinion.