These are books that didn’t make it past my self-imposed fifty-page rule, sometimes not even past the first paragraph, before turning it into a Frisbee. Not the top ten books that I hated…hmm, sounds like another list… because I’d have to finish them before deciding if they qualify. I might actually like these books, if I can ever bring myself to restart them. Dunno. Not too inclined to take another spoonful of something that was so wretched on first taste.
I’m sure you have your own version of a fifty-page rule because most of you know that most stories don’t get started for awhile. There are exceptions: ‘Call me Ishmael,’ for example, but that’s due to a compelling opening line which Melville followed with a rather compelling situation. Not every book can start that way so you gotta be fair. But if you’re not at least interested by page fifty, then it’s tossable.
There is a category of books tossable almost within the first sentence: the self-published nightmares that are flooding the bookways. You know to what I refer, books that have apparently not been edited nor critiqued by anyone other than the author’s mother, who told her what a great story it was so she bought a $20 cover and threw it up on Amazon and waits to be proclaimed the next Charlotte Bronte. I don’t include any of those. That’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Without further ado:
10. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. I realize what heresy I speak here, given the immense popularity of this book, but I could not get past the first ten pages, let alone fifty. It was long ago when I tried so I don’t remember much of what I read nor specifically what irritated me, only that I sadi “Oh, brother!” quite a bit. I think that’s due to every single fantasy trope, dressed in Capital Letters, showing up every other sentence or so. I am willing to give this another shot, but not right now.
9. The Tommyknockers, by Stephen King. This book convinced me that King had decided to stop writing and merely trade on his name, certain his byline was enough to assure best seller lists. I’ve read elsewhere that the good man, himself, regards it as his worst effort, so there is redemption.
8. Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon. What a load of pretentious dreck, apparent by page 25 or so. And yes, I fully understand that Pynchon-worship is a mark of heightened intellectual capacity and sophistication, and those who do not like his works are just a bunch of bourgeoise shopkeepers. Okay.
7. Space, by James Michener. I loved Michener’s Centennial, regard it as one of my favorite big books, but this one … oh Lord. Actually got to about page 100 or so before I tossed it. It is so formulaic Michener that I suspect he wrote it in his sleep.
6. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown. I didn’t make it past ten pages. Felt like I was back in middle school.
5. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. This is a YA book, quite brutal, and filled with so much unbelievable teenage superiority and angst that I felt like I was back in high school. Shudder.
4. The Tank Lords, David Drake. I love space opera and space military stories and Drake is the Stephen King of the genre, at least based on his production. But I could not get into this, at all. Made it to about page fifty. I think. Didn’t like the characters, didn’t like the world building.
3. Wool, by Hugh Howey. I know, I know, this is supposed to be the self-published wunderbuch but I stopped right after Howey killed a character that I really liked. I didn’t like any of the remaining characters, so why bother? Add to that an absolutely baffling world with very few hints of what the devil was going on and, well, frisbee. Admittedly, I went back months later and finished a great majority of the story, although, given the way this book /story/series is published, I have no idea whether I actually finished it or not. Still didn’t like it that much, but I have a better idea of the story and well, okay, it ain’t that bad. But I’m not going back.
2. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. No further comments necessary.
1. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. I actually liked this until about page 100, and by then it was so tedious I just put it down and never went back. So not so much a frisbee as a doorstop. I’d be willing to pick it up again one day, if I can remember where I left it.