Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On Why I Haven't Posted a Review of "Un Lun Dun" by China Mieville

Some have inquired why they haven't seen a review of it yet. Does it really take me months to finish a novel? Here's why:

I couldn't finish it.

Not because it was bad writing or bad editing or anything like that. I couldn't feel anything for any of the characters, they annoyed me more than they intrigued me and were not overly sympathetic to me, and also, it was too foreign.

I know that sounds bad, but take that as from someone whose favorite television programme is "Doctor Who" and normally relishes in all things British (even pronouncing program in the British way...). I just couldn't connect. I suppose I could have gotten through that if I enjoyed the characters, but as it stood, I could not get into it.

Also, I was put off by the words of praise in the front of the novel. As someone that reads as fast as I do, I could not help but digest more than a few of them as I flipped to the beginning of the novel, and the sense I got was that the main character was not the main character, which implied that her sidekick was the main character, whom I was not interested in even more than I was not interested in the main character.

Even though this was presented to me as something praiseworthy, I went into it feeling betrayed and annoyed.

Maybe I'm wrong, but one of the problems with being a writer (or having any sense at all), is that you can usually see what's coming in stories even if they are devoid of foreshadowing. And trailers, reviews or words of praise are like having a cheatsheet going into it. The whole, "don't put a rifle in Act 1 if it's not going to go off at some point" backfire of now we know why they are showing us everything they show us (hint: there's a reason or they wouldn't be showing us and chances are if it's Hollywood it will be the game-ending move), and they not only show it to us in the first 20 minutes of the movie, but we see its Mark II form in the trailer before we see the Mark I form in the movie!


What I saw of the other world also seemed stupid and trivial.

So, since I was just put off by it and I didn't feel that I could offer any worthwhile criticisms or commentary: no review score or review beyond these few words.

I'm not even going to blog-label it.

I know some reviewers assign 1 star or a failing grade to those works they couldn't get through, but well, I think of it more as an incomplete grade than a true F.

Apologies if you think China Mieville is the greatest thing since sliced bread (side note: unsliced bread > sliced bread), but reading Un Lun Dun hasn't necessarily put me off the author. I still look forward to reading Perdido Street Station someday, but he's off my current to-read author list until the bad taste goes away. I didn't even open Kraken which I had checked out at the same time as Un Lun Dun.

Thanks for your time. If you think I should give it a second chance, I welcome your thoughts on why. Sometimes hearing other people's appreciation helps inspire my own appreciation for a work...although usually there has to be at least a seed of enjoyment to fan into a flame of fandom. I'd probably be more receptive to why I should read Kraken though.