Monday, March 30, 2015

A few I did not finish

It's been a while since I've talked about some of the books I started and put down, so here are the latest, in chronological order.

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
I received a galley of this novel from Penguin First Flights, and probably read close to half of it. It begins with a little girl abandoned in a department store by her mother, and she joins up with two elderly people, Agatha Pantha and Karl the Touch Typist. It was almost a bit twee, but not quite. Somehow it just barely worked and I did enjoy it for a while. I think something more exciting was calling to me though, and I set it aside.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard of this since it's the hottest novel around. Again and again I am surprised when I don't see the appeal of the book everyone else in the world seems to love, and this is no different. It has been compared to Gone Girl (which is the first mistake), and centers around an unlikeable young woman who is an alcoholic and a stalker. She watches a particular couple from the train every day, and then one of them is missing, and it is perhaps related to a night she cannot remember because she was so drunk. I wanted to slap this woman and tell her to pull herself together, but also the writing style just didn't draw me in. I gave it 50 pages and decided that it's not for me.

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
This one was a bit more painful, because it has been on my list to read for literally years (and by "literally" I don't mean "figuratively.") In the first 25 pages I thought I'd put it down, but then it got better and I really got into it for a little while, but after 150 pages when I impulsively set it aside to read the new Sam Savage novel, I knew I was done. It was 500 pages long and I feel like after 150 pages I should know more about what was going on. It was supposed to be a post-apocalyptic novel (and you know how much I love those) but I knew almost nothing about the apocalypse or how the world was actually different. It was very unusual in terms of the story and the narrative voice, but the meandering and distractions all became a bit of a chore. This was supposed to be for my TBR Pile Challenge. Ah, well. At least it's one more off my list, and the point of the TBR challenge (for me) is to at least try the books I've been putting off reading for so long.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen
To be fair, I was never convinced I'd actually read a 500-page book about science, but it's been on my to read list for quite a while and the subject matter is interesting. Last week when I finished Station Eleven, in which most of humanity is wiped out by a new strain of flu, I was suddenly inspired to pick it up. I didn't think I'd read the whole thing, but I also thought if there was any point at which I was likely to read this book, it was now. Quammen luckily writes in a style accessible to the layperson, and I found it quite interesting. But about 100 pages in, I came to a point where he described in great detail a scientist infecting lab mice with ebola. There is very little I cannot stand to read about, but the use of animals in labs - at least when described in such a casual way - is apparently one of them. If the author had shared even a smidgeon of my feelings about the wrongness of such things, perhaps I could have kept going. But like most people who aren't me, he seems to consider it just a fact of life, and completely worth the knowledge that we gain. I didn't abandon the book entirely though; I skipped ahead to the chapter about AIDS, which is the part I was most interested in, and read/skimmed that before putting the book aside.

So those are my last few failed books, going back several months. Not bad, considering how many I've picked up in that time.

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