Spending less time reading blogs means that I have more time to spend reading fiction. Unfortunately, the fiction I’ve been reading has been letting me down. In particular, I’m very disappointed in the last two books I’ve (mostly) read.
For one of the books, N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (sample chapter),mit’s not entirely the author’s fault. Had I not gone on a big urban fantasy binge a little while back (as mentioned earlier), I probably would’ve liked this better. Having become fed up with the “My Awesome Werewolf Boyfriend” stuff in Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson books, though, I found this book’s “My Awesome Boyfriend, the Enslaved God of Darkness” sections awfully hard to take. The setting is really cool, the eventual plot resolution is unexpected but cool, but the romance element was really off-putting for me. And as a result, I found myself noticing all sorts of other little distracting things.
To change pace completely, I opted to follow this with Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War, which was one of the books being held up as brilliant by people complaining about the Hugo ballot last year. I had looked at the jacket copy in the past, and not been blown away, but I added it to the list of stuff to read for possible Hugo nominations– I didn’t get to it before the deadline, but I decided to give it a shot, anyway.
I have to say, I’m baffled. I have a really hard time seeing what’s brilliant about this book. The future societies that are clashing are caricatures of extreme versions of modern ideologies (“Greater Brazil,” an ultra-authoritarian society ruled by aristocratic familes and organized around extreme environmentalist lines, seems like something from one of Glenn Beck’s less coherent days), the characters are (at least in the first half-ish of the book that I’ve slogged through) flat and unlikeable, and the author is clearly more concerned about getting the biological jargon correct than writing dialogue that sounds like anything one human being would say to another.
I’ve stuck with this for almost half of the book, hoping that it would develop some redeeming qualities, but it hasn’t, and I’m pretty much fed up with it. The problem is, nothing in the to-be-read queue sounds any better at the moment. (The book before those two, Iain (M) Banks’s Transition wasn’t a whole lot more satisfying.)
So, suggest something I should read. Preferably fiction, preferably in the science fiction/ fantasy genre, but really, I’ll take just about anything at this point.