… do you stop reading a book?
I know it seems like an obvious answer as it should be “at the end.” But let me explain.
My preferred genre is fantasy. I love being transported to other worlds, and have no problem suspending disbelief for things a bit more “out there”. But I am picky about the stories I enjoy. Just throwing a fairy or two and a dragon does not make a good fantasy. And if your creatures are contrary to how I see them in my world view you had better have a fantastic story to show why they would be different. (I’m old school, think Dungeons and Dragons. One does not consider a dragon a lizard – it takes a full party of healers, warriors, mages, paladins, etc to fight a dragon – they are the be-all and end-all creature.)
Ok excuse the bit about fairies and dragons for a bit, it’s my own little soap box. Following the idea of a fantastic story, I can also go beyond the fairy tale. A good story with solid characters is always a winner. I am currently reading a book that has the potential to be a good story but the characters are actually getting in the way.
The Tower of Fear by Glen Cook (link to Amazon) has an interesting premise. We see a war torn land, previously led by a tyrant priest, a master of the dark arts. The land is invaded by a worse enemy; a demanding warrior nation which wins and poverty abounds. The people are left wondering which was worse. A plot is in the works to reincarnate the priest so he can bring the land back to what the people once knew. In the mean time, the invading military is just trying to maintain order, and try to get the people to accept them and their religion.
At least, that’s what I think is happening. My problem is that there are so many characters, with so many uncommon names, that I’m having a very hard time keeping track. The author jumps back and forth to what I think is three opposing factions (I have yet to figure out which side the third belongs) and actually references two different characters as the “old general”. How confusing is that? One only knows which one he’s talking about based on who he is interacting with.
Admittedly I’m only near the beginning. But usually by page 73 I have a pretty good idea of the plot. I want to continue reading because as I said, it has the potential to be a really good story. But I find myself flipping back and forth looking for what a certain character did previously so that I can keep them all straight. Short of keeping a notebook by my bed, I see no way of figuring this book out. I do hope that it clicks for me soon, as I really don’t like leaving a book unfinished.
But there is more to life, I think, than to waste time reading a bad book. So I ask, at what point do you stop?