Some of you may know that a few weeks ago I did a 30 day book challenge, the aim being that every day there would be a new topic and I had to pick a book to suit that challenge. Day 18 was a book that disappointed you.
Even when I was writing it I was torn. In the end I picked Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, the first book of hers that I truly struggled to finish. But since wrapping up my 30 day challenge the notable mention for ‘Most Disappointing Book’ has kept cropping up in conversation, or mentioned in things I read, and I decided that The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon deserved its own post, simply so I could complain about it.
Major SPOILERS ahead for The Shadow of the Wind (or TSotW) and minor SPOLIERS for The Book Thief and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
I would like to start of by congratulating Ruiz Zafon on his style of writing. I was in no way disappointed by the manner in which he wrote. His prose are beautiful, surprising in a way as there usually feels as if there is something lost in translation (literally) with books not originally in English. Translated stories usually feel as if they have lost a little bit of their magic that was contained in the original text: not so with his writing style.
Moving in a more negative direction, we come to the plot. Its not that the plot was bad as such, more that I was expecting more. It was a bit boring. This may be a case of a book being so hyped up that I was expecting it to reach these unattainable standards I had set up in my head due to all its praise. However, we still have not come to the most disappointing aspect of the book.
So here’s where the anger lies (and the spoilers). This is the reason why when people say they want to read TSotW, or I see it on a school reading list, I feel a huge annoyance surge within me, mixed in with a side of (probably unwarranted) rage. When you promise that a character is going to die, have him f***ing die! (That is the first time that I have felt the need to swear on this blog, that is how strongly I feel about this.)
The Shadow of the Wind is not a Disney movie, it is not a fantasy novel where people rise from the dead. It isn’t Supernatural, where people die and come back to life all the time and you forgive the plot direction because they are so damn pretty. No, this is a serious book. Your heart stopping for 2 minutes is not the story of how you died, it is at best an unfortunate set of events, at worst a life threatening situation. Don’t build up an entire book to the way in which the protagonist’s life ends and then snatch the ending from us. More than disappointed, I felt cheated by TSotW. By preparing myself for the dire ending, the new ‘everything is awesome’ and ‘we all lived happily ever’ after conclusion felt as if the author was simply just not brave enough to take us to the dark territory where the good people die and the bad people sometimes win. Darker books are not bad books; in fact because you feel the pain they cause they can be the best of books. See The Book Thief or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. They cut you, but at the end you feel satisfied despite being hurt, or even because you were. The Shadow of the Wind just made me feel hollow – and not in a good way.
Note: after writing this post I had ‘Everything is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie stuck in my head for hours. That song is so catchy!
Have you read The Shadow of the Wind? What did you think? Let me know below.
Image credit: Writing Therapy