“The Dervish House” & “Cryoburn”

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Books, Reviews

I’m continuing to wade through the Hugo nominees.

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald had to be abandoned.  I’m sure there are many people out there who will lap it up, especially because of it’s multicultural flavour, but this reader had to put it away after slugging it our for 25% of the book.  I’ve said it before.  Books can have convoluted, converging, subtle plot lines, an excess of characters and dense, poetic description, -but the degree to which they have those things has to be counterbalanced by content that is actually engaging.  Reading a book shouldn’t be a test of perseverance.  The Dervish House suffered from all of those problems.  Not only were there a multitude of characters, but they all had strange foreign names (with characters that my Kobo replaced with question marks) making them difficult to recall.  While there was some interesting treatment of nano-technology which gave me mild motivation to continue reading, it just wasn’t enough.  I would have to give this book a C+.

So I’ve moved on to Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujould.  You can often tell what a book is going to be like from the way the author chooses to begin it.  Novels can begin with a slow introduction of setting and character (like The Dervish House) or you can begin by dropping the reader into some action or suspense.  Feed started with a zombie attack and Cryoburn begins with the main character trying to claw his way out of a botched kidnapping.  After having read about 15% of the book, I’m finding it engaging and entertaining, although it does not have the same depth and social commentary that was in Feed -which therefor still has my vote for the Hugo.  Obviously it is too early to offer a rating for the book, but I’ll continue reading and maybe be surprised (-although I doubt it as I’ve read other books by this author and have found little notable depth or complexity.)


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