Tag Archives: 30-Day Book Challenge

Most Disappointing Book: Part 2

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.

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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

Day 30: Your favourite book of all time

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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The final reveal: this satire of an American air squadron in the Second World War tops my list of Best Books. I do need to re-read it. I haven’t read it in at least three years, and this makes me feel a little guilty about naming it my favourite book of all time (tied with Neil Gaiman and, who else, Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens). But there have been very few books that have kept me so entertained, made me question principles, caused me to laugh out loud and also had me almost in tears all in a few pages. The characters are all well drawn, Major Major being my favourite (I think, because there’s so many that I treasure). I have to revisit this book to make sure, but I’m pretty sure that it tops my all time best books list.

Thank you for staying with me, and sorry to those who prefer film and travel related content – it’s coming now, no fear. I’ve had a lot of fun with this challenge, though I definitely felt more confident with some prompts than others. If you decide have a go yourself let me know so I can follow it. Cheers guys.

Day 29: A book everyone hated but you liked

Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer

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This was a book hated by my Ethics of War class – a core textbook, everyone had to read it. List a book as compulsory, and it suddenly becomes the most boring book ever written. However, I really enjoyed it. Looking into the ethics of war practices,JaUW confronts moral dilemmas and tries to find a moral acceptable solution. This may sound boring, and to some it is, but Walzer is a eloquent writer, and the subject matter is engaging if you actively confront the ideas and solutions he poses rather than just assuming what he says is correct.

So I recommend this book (as I did when I mentioned it in Day 1). Definitely give it a read if you think ethical puzzles are what your mind is after. For politics students, feel free to ignore it and hope it goes away. I always found this to be a good strategy.

Image creditAmazon

If you’re missing your film-fix, check out Dreams From the Mind. It’s all about film and fashion, a combination of opinions and reviews.

Day 28: Favourite title

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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I never did To Kill a Mockingbird at GCSE (I did Silas Marner instead – one guess as to which one I’d have rather studied), so I haven’t dissected this title to death. For me it holds an elusive appeal. It’s so simple, and says everything and nothing about the plot of this incredible book. You know the quote, you know that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, but is that really what the book is about? Or is it about the redemption of those who could not protect their mockingbird. Is it the slaughtered mockingbird the literally deceased Tom Robinson, or the reclusive Boo Radley, figuratively killed by society’s expectations of both who he is and who he should be?

Am I delving too deep into this? Maybe. Have I completely missed the point? Probably. But it has been a title that has long intrigued me like no other has, resulting in it becoming my favourite.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Day 27: The most surprising plot twist or ending

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

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I know it’s a children’s book, but I have never been more surprised by a plot twist than was the case with PoA. Seriously, after all that build up, the book changed into something else and it all made sense. Even now I’m older I have trouble finding the plot holes. If there is one book I wished I didn’t know the ending so I could go back and read afresh, it’s this one.

Sidenote 1: I feel as if I have been defending my love for Harry Potter needlessly. I love Harry Potter, to me it is near flawless, and I don’t care who knows!

Sidenote 2: And seeing as I’m in America at the moment – Happy Independence Day everyone!

Day 26: A book that changed your opinion about something

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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I’m not sure that Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel changed my opinions on anything, but I think it challenged them. Or rather, discussing the book with my friends made me challenge myself in what I read into the book. Less cryptically, I’m talking about the end: after all that has gone on before in the dystopian world, we reach the epilogue, and it seems everything is back to normal. However, and this is where the discussions changed my thinking: the world only seems normal because it is similar to the one we live in now. If you look closely at the ending, you still see sexism, still can recognise attitudes that have travelled from the dystopian state to the seemingly ‘corrected’ future. Maybe this sounds a bit deep, but this is a book that really made me question not only what I’d read, but the way we lived now. It was a pretty important book for me, I guess.

Image credit: Kelly Garbato

Day 25: A character who you can relate to the most

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I am not claiming to be Lizzy Bennet. In fact, I’m probably more similar to Mary, as depressing as that is. But her frustration with the world, and her love for behaving the way she wants to behave is something a lot of women can relate to. I think a lot of women would like to be as smart and funny as her, obeying some of societies rules and then disregarding those they felt were ridiculous. I  wouldn’t mind having a Mr. Darcy either, but that is something else entirely.

Image credit: Pop Culture is my Life