Over the past week I've been trying to match the nonfiction I'm reading, book for book, with fiction. It's not working--the current count is three nonfiction titles, two fiction titles.
The first novel I'm reading (well, listening to, as I do the dishes) is Elizabeth Kostova's title The Historian. It's a big old thick book which takes on the legend of Dracula, told from the multiple viewpoints (and during different time periods) of a historian's mentor, the historian, and his daughter. I wanted to like it, because it got a lot of good reviews, and the Lesbrarian* loved it. But I can't help it--I'm totally bored. I've been bored from the very first tape--and I'm only listening to the abridged version. (I do not believe in abridged books and would have preferred the unabridged version, but it wasn't available at my library.) It is so boring that I've actually started to make up my own dialogue for it. When the historian's love interest wakes up in the morning and discovers she has been attacked by Dracula, I supplied new dialogue: "Helen, you've been cheating on me with that mad fox Dracula, haven't you, you hussy?"**
In all fairness, I still have a tape to go; maybe that'll turn it all around. But the author simply takes too long to tell too little. Honestly, if I could tell modern fiction authors just one thing, it would be that you don't have to write a 600-page book to write a good book. Really.
The other fiction I've been reading is Suzanne Collins's YA novel The Hunger Games, which I loved. I had to summarize it for another project last week, and here's how I did so: "It’s set in a (maybe not too distant?) dystopian future, in which the ruling powers of Panem, ensconced carefully in their Capitol, keep the rest of the population under control by demanding 'tributes' from different regions of the country to compete to the death in the annual Hunger Games. The tributes are, of course, people’s children–every child between the age of 12 and 18 has their name entered in a drawing, and each region of Panem has to send a male and female tribute to the games. But when Katniss Everdeen’s younger sister is chosen, she does the unthinkable–and volunteers to enter the Games in her place."
I loved this book, and was happy to pass it along to Mr. CR, who blows through fantasy and science fiction at an alarming rate (and is thus difficult to keep fully supplied), and he also enjoyed it. In addition to liking the action part of the novel (which is rare enough for me; I usually prefer character-driven fiction to story-driven fiction), I loved the love triangle--both of Katniss's love interests are viable characters (unlike in Stephenie Meyers's Twilight books, which purport to feature a love triangle, but don't). And the best part? It's a very readable 374 YA pages. That's the way to do it!
*This post is dedicated to the Lesbrarian, who wanted me to read The Historian. Our tastes continue to be nearly exactly opposite! It's a wonder of nature, I tell you.
**Also, just once? I'd love to read a Dracula book where Dracula has a sense of humor. Really. I think you can be both evil and hilarious. In fact, I think a funny Dracula would be even more terrifying, in a weird sort of way.