Bad reads. Two books I don’t recommend, that the librarian inflicted on our bookclub recently. I think she hasn’t read either of them. Bear in mind that I’m one of the younger members of our bookclub, even if I am, officially, retired!
Sanctus by Simon Toyne
My (physical) book club’s February read was Sanctus . I read the back cover, and started on it straight away, as I had some time to kill. It was well written, nice descriptions, inventive – especially with the underground library. However, the first fifty pages lacked suspense or wonder, simply because the back revealed precisely what was going to happen. What a waste.
I quickly became irritated with the flipping from one group of protagonists to another. I read two and half pages, and got a change of group (and new chapter). It became far too easy to put down. And then it became far too easy to pick up another book from the pile I had on my reading list in February and March – a combination of Net-Galleys with March releases and books to fit with the A to Z Challenge. I might have picked up this book one more time and finally got into it, but the bookclub meeting came. Sanctus was always too Dan Brown for me, although better written, in my opinion. I did Dan Brown over ten years ago and I really don’t want to go back there.
So it was a DNF at p136, chapter 41. I wasn’t exaggerating at the two-and-a-bit pages per chapter.
Most of my bookclub finished it, although some wished they hadn’t. One person wondered whether she’d missed something as she found the ending odd. The others pointed out that it continues in the next book. It might be worth taking on holiday or on a long journey, but then again, do you really want a really violent story along the lines of Dan Brown, where you have to buy book two (and possibly book 3) to find out how the story ends? My first ‘bad reads book’ of the year… closely followed by our next bookclub book!
The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry
‘”I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn.” So begins the tale of Ted Wallace, unaffectionately known as the Hippopotamus.’
Starts with an extremely rude chapter about the protagonist, which made most of my bookclub put it straight down again. I soldiered on, thinking I hadn’t expected this. The second, delightfully written, chapter told of two boys living in a mansion in the country, with one in favour of blood sports, and the younger one out to sabotage the next day’s shoot.
And so it went on, really. Some beautifully, tenderly written pieces interspersed with crude and–as one review on the cover said–filthy chapters, all wrapped up in a slight story that recalled Wodehousian country-house parties. I suppose I read on to find out whether there really was a story under the pomposity. Yeah, I suppose there was. Not worth the effort, though.
It’s full-on Stephen Fry, without the constraints of a script written by someone else to produce his absolute genius.
My book club hated it. Most gave it 2 or 3 out of 10; my 5/10 was its highest rating. I gave it a generous 2 stars on Goodreads, since I did, after all, finish it. But this bad reads book fits my Mount TBR list; I put it on the list a few years ago for the Local Heroes challenge since the setting is Norfolk. Good descriptions of Norwich. Bad astronomy – you can’t see the Dog star or Orion’s belt in summer, and a gibbous moon is more than half, less than full. Snark.
Have you had any bad reads lately?