Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Quitting & Historical Fantasy

I tried. I mean, I have really been trying to force myself to finish Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. And if I was really dead set on finishing the novel, of course, I could.

But it's really just not interesting me, anymore.

This brings me to a topic that might be difficult to understand: I don't really like fantasy.

I mean, good writing is good writing. I like fantasy novels that are well done.

It seems to me, however, from what I have gleaned from reading fantasy writers' blogs and talking to people who like to write, that the fun of fantasy is the world-building. And unless that is really well done, without going into so much detail that I feel like someone is physically trying to jam a map into my head, I don't tend to like reading it.

I'm not against fantastical things, such as people being worshipped becoming gods in Christopher Moore's Island of the Sequined Love Nun or Chris Elliott inserting himself into Victorian London in The Shroud of the Thwacker.

I guess my reading and writing preferences tend to deal with people. I want to care about the characters, whether I love them or hate them. I want to feel suspense and anticipation.

And a lot of times, when I'm reading fantasy novels, the effort has been put into the world-building, and I don't care about the characters.

This is how I felt, reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. It started out interesting and mildly funny. Once the time travel happened, however, (oh, yeah - spoiler, for those who haven't read Outlander - there's time travel) the plot felt so predictable. I knew - many more spoilers about to come; you have been warned - whom the main character was going to fall in love with, I was perplexed that she didn't put up more of a fight when she was told she had to marry him (I know there were extenuating circumstances; I don't care...she's already married; it's weird that she so readily acquiesced), and then she and her guy are just rutting like pigs for far too long... I got bored. Once the story started up again, and it wasn't "shy sex talk" and frantic mating anymore, but actual plot once more, I realized I just don't care about these characters.

Worse, when I DO care about the characters, it's usually me being annoyed with one of them.

Like the scene where Claire's nearly raped and kills her attacker. Good for her, girl power and all that - and then, she and lover-boy are in shock, so they have to have seconds of crazy wild sex... Okay, what? You've got to have blood all over you, and you almost had some guy forcing himself onto you, and your first response once the danger is over... is to have sex.

Basically, I feel that Outlander is a cheesy romance novel, and with all of the well-written material out there, don't feel like I want to waste my time with this poor excuse for literature. Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe somewhere in the rest of this novel lies an amazing story. But I doubt it.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

The Things We Carried said...

I used to have a rule for myself: Finish every book I start.

No more. There are so many well written books, there will never be enough to read them all. Why waste the limited time I have to do what I love, reading poorly written books that insult my intelligence as a reader?

You are on the right track. And I hate it when sex is thrown in to a story in a way that most women would not relate to or would be repulsed by. Again, I may just stop reading that book at that point.

Shelly Quade said...

Thank you for commenting, T.T.W.C.! I'm glad to see that someone agrees with me. I'm reading something else now, a book I enjoy much more, and I am feeling much better.