Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Book of Heroes
I just finished 'The Book of Heroes' and it left me very unsatisfied. And a little irritated. In fact, it did something I've never really encountered in a book and it left me a little put out. So, what did I think of it?
The Good: The imagination in this book was lovely. It could almost be the love child of Haroun and the Sea of Stories and The Neverending Story. The attempt at the concept was very good too, looking at the dark side of heroism. I appreciate looking at multiple levels, especially in fantasy.
The Bad: There are many of them.
First of all was the writing itself in that it was just.so.plodding.and.BORING. Here though, I can't really blame the author. This book is actually a Japanese novel and so the english version is naturally a translation. Translating is hard and getting the authors tone and voice in a novel is even harder so I bet my opinion on the writing would change had I read it in its original language.
I can't, though, blame the translation for the authors incessant need to explain every little detail of something unfamiliar. Seriously. Whole pages of explanation that broke up the plot and made me not care. The worst part about the explanations, though, was that when you really thought about them, they were filled with logical fallacies. In the end, I couldn't accept the world because I found the reasoning and statements too filled with holes. In addition to the fallacies there were some blatant contradictions which didn't help matters. For example, at one point, the characters are talking about The Hero (good) and the King in Yellow (bad) and that they are two sides of the same coin. Black and White. But then, a few sentences later, someone mentions 'oh but there are shades of gray too. Where do you draw the line?" This is an extremely good point and puts in serious question what the people believe about the good and the bad....BUT THEY DON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. The statement is totally ignored, despite the fact it calls into question the foundations of the whole concept!!
The WTF: The ending. Oh boy the ending. I just...I'm still a little speechless by the ending. Not only speechless but unsatisfied. You see, through the entire book we, the reader, and the MC are led to believe that the MC is trying to save her brother from the antagonist. And when I say the whole book, I mean all the way until the last 20 pages or so. There are no clues to say otherwise. Then, all of a sudden, at the end of the book--nope! You weren't saving your brother at all! Here's the ending to the real plot! Hope your satisfied even though all themes and characters were built up around the OTHER plot line. How the hell am I supposed to be satisfied then?!
I have no idea why this was done. I'm not saying an author can't keep plot points hidden, or misdirect the attention of their reader--in fact that is an important tool of the author. However, when you spring a new plot on us, out of the blue, at the very end of the book, it ruins everything that was built before AND puts a sour taste in the reader's mouth. It felt like a deliberate break in a reader's trust just for a gimmicky ending.
Not a fan, not a fan.
I don't really recommend this book, and don't plan on ever rereading it. It has its high points, but between books with similar plots, I'd choose Haroun and the Sea of Stories instead.