A Rarity

September 4, 2008

On a recent trip into the bookstore, I saw a book with:

  1. an eye-catching cover
  2. jacket copy that piqued my interest
  3. a positive front-cover blurb from a major name in the field of SF

So I bought it. And boy, am I disappointed. So disappointed, that I'm going to do something I almost never do - I'm not going to finish it.

In the first twenty pages, I found four typos and misspellings. Ok, that's not fair on the author, chalk that one up to lackadaisical copy-editing. Call me anal, but I hate spotting typos in a book. One or two in a 400-pager, fine. But 4+ in the first 20 pages? I start getting distracted from the story and begin looking for more errors instead. Typos take me out of the story, I can't help it.

Then the info-dumping, backstory and random acronyms going on in the first twenty pages! I chucked it after page 17, felt guilty about it the next day, and tried again. By page 24, I was through. For me to not finish a book is extremely, spot-the-sasquatch rare. I have a tendency to want to give the author and the story the benefit of the doubt, so I usually hang in there to the end. Not this time.

But this is also a lesson in taste in books, and what I've previously called "resonance". Because this book obviously didn't resonate with me. But it must have with the Big Name, unless that person just hands out blurbs willy-nilly, which I somehow doubt. So there you have it. Other people liked it. Just not me.

The other lesson is that good jacket copy and blurbs do sell books. Even if the buyer doesn't wind up enjoying the read.

I won't be naming names, because that's not what this blog's about, nor will you find the book in the reading log, since I didn't finish it.

Watch the info-dumping, kiddies! It brings stories to a grinding halt. And pay attention during the copy-editing process.

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