Friday, May 04, 2012

Choices, choices, choices...

This is my problem...and a decidedly first-world problem it is, of no consequence whatsoever in the universal scheme of things. But it is a problem for me, and it's bothering me for some reason.

I'm reading a novel, Natural Selection (Hyperion, 2006), by Dave Freedman. It's, oh, I don't know, call it science fiction, call it techno-thriller. There is a crew of scientists in search of an elusive new species of ray that is carnivorous and very, very smart. Think of them like velociraptors under the sea. Except that some of them are learning to fly, have evolved the capacity to breathe air...and they are very very hungry. At this point in the narrative (I'm 186 pages in), they've already eaten one person, a pod of dolphins (is that the correct term? A pod? Or is that just whales?) and a whole lot of seagulls.

The scientists have yet to see a live one of these creatures, but they've dissected the one dead specimen they've found, and it is all mouth, teeth and part of their necropsy (autopsy on a non-human specimen), they pulled 56 dead but undigested gulls out of its stomach.

It's an interesting concept for a book. That's not my problem.

My problem is, I don't like any of the characters, I'm running out of patience with the chapters told from the rays' point of view. And the author, probably because this is his first novel, has a tendency to info-dump more than he really needs to.

In ordinary circumstances, I would have given this book 50 pages, 75 at the outside, and then put it down in frustration. But, I find myself wanting to see where the story goes, how the author solves the problems he's setting up for the characters, and how he solves the problem he set up for himself as a writer in seeing the story through to the end.

This, even though at least once a chapter I get an almost-overwhelming urge to throw the book against a wall.

Part of me wants to keep reading, for the reasons stated above, as well as just that I'm nearly halfway through the thing and it seems stupid to put it down now. On the other hand, well, the frustration just keeps building. And it isn't like I don't have anything else to read. My to-read pile is huge. Plus, I should be spending more time on my writing and less time reading a novel I'm pretty sure I don't even like that much.

My questions to you, dear readers, are two. First of all, should I keep reading or give it up and go on to something else? And two, do you ever run into problems like this when reading a book, where you want to put it down and not pick it back up but can't quite convince yourself to just cut your losses before it sucks any more time away from you?

Drop a comment if you have any advice, experiences or just think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.

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