I’ve completed two hugely disappointing works lately and morale is low, people. I’ve become so disenchanted that I’m taking a big breath of fresh air by re-reading A Game of Thrones. I always turn to my truest of lit-friends when others let me down. Like I said, these books really frustrated me, so I’m not going to waste any more time on them than is necessary; therefore, you will get a bare bones review of both right now and then we will all move on with our lives.
First I read Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. The reviews of this short novel sounded promising, and it being the first in a trilogy appealed to me; I do love a series! The story is a biologist’s journal & she is part of a team of four individuals (all identified by their occupations, never names) who enter Area X, a remote and mysterious portion of (I think) the U.S. The four team members are the 12th expedition sent by the government to examine Area X and search for… well, I’m not exactly sure what they’re searching for, but many of the previous expedition teams have disappeared, committed suicide, or rapidly succumbed to cancer. Like I said, it seemed interesting enough from the description, but it really contained very few moments of excitement or fear. The main focus was on the biologists feelings, in which, I assure you, I had very little interest. She “wrote” about her distrust of the other team members, her childhood experiences and relationship with horrible parents, her distance from her ex-husband, yadda yadda yadda blah blah nobody cares. I have very little tolerance for books about feelings; I want action, encounters, fear-inducing descriptions, emotional appeals, and unexpected twists.Annihilation was blah, at best, and I will not be wasting time on the sequels.
Then, I finished The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes which, again, seemed interesting based on the description. It juggles multiple characters’ perspectives, all following Harper Curtis in his efforts to single out and brutally murder girls who “shine” with the help of some sort of time-travelling apartment. He unknowingly leaves one survivor, Kirby Mazrachi, who interns at a local Chicago newspaper in order to gain perspective on her own attempted murder case and impossibly (based on a 60 year time frame) connect it to many other murders with the same characteristics. The most I can say about this novel was that it just felt like amateur hour; the premise seems to have been an ill-formed idea that left gaps in the reasoning and explanation of this time-travelling house. Not only did it continually change perspectives, but it changed years in order to follow different “shining girls,” which took more effort to follow than it was worth. Honestly, the story left me with more unanswered questions than anything; what the heck does it mean to “shine”? What was Harpers personal vendetta against said shine? How did the house know about these girls? How did he just happen to know when/where to find them? Why didn’t those idiot girls just leave town after his childhood “visit”? Plus, the story ends in the middle of the big climax, so there is little to no resolution offered. It’s like Beukes clumsily concocted a climax and then said, “okay, that should be good enough,” and then threw it at a publisher without wanting to write even one more page. I appreciate that I was able to be done with the book sooner than later; I hated every second of it. But she could’ve spared a hot minute to let us know whether the brutally stabbed guy lives to make it to the ambulance.
Don’t waste your time on either of these. I guess I’ll keep trying to find something worthwhile. Any suggestions?