Disappointing books (#SFWApro)

Not a good week for reading.
The best of the bunch was A GARDEN OF MARVELS: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants by Ruth Kassinger, but it’s still a curate’s egg (i.e., parts of it were good). I really enjoy the history of how scientists struggled to figure out the nature of plants—where were their stomachs? Their sex organs? Their brains?—but the more general botanical information was less interesting to me, as I already know the basics. The scenes from her personal life that were (I presume) supposed to add more of a human element didn’t work at all.
AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE by Carrie Vaughn has an excellent premise: Cellia, the estranged, non-super daughter of two super-heroes is reluctantly dragged back into her world when a prosecutor decides to use Celia’s forensic accounting skills to take down super-villain the Destructor. I like Celia and her deadpan reaction to being kidnapped as a hostage yet again, but the fun fades away; Celia’s pretty much glum about everything and that leaves the story plodding along. Even when she finds true love it’s not terribly exciting (plus I pegged who it would be pretty much from his frist appearance). Given I didn’t like Vaughn’s Discord’s Apple either I can safely say she’s not for me.
Worst of the bunch was TAM LIN by Pamela Dean. Online reviews refer to this as a Love It Or Hate It book and I definitely hate it.
While the nominal plot involves the retelling of the Tam Lin story (woman falls for man promised to the powers of Hell), that’s only a subplot, the real focus being protagonist Janet’s college life, covered in often excruciating detail (classes, teachers, meals, roommates, furniture, visits home) for 400 pages. Given the college setting is based on Dean’s alma mater (or so I’ve read), I’m guessing she either wanted to write a setting story or her fondness for the setting overwhelmed everything else. It doesn’t work either way. Good characters might have redeemed it, but the level of literary allusion and reference in every other sentence and the almost complete absence of anything resembling pop culture (I’ve been too college. Even the most pretentious students weren’t as bad as Dean’s characters) made the cast caricatures.

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2 responses to “Disappointing books (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Recent reading (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Is Our Writers Learning? The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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