Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Sorry, Percy Jackson

Here’s a confession that isn’t going to be easy… Promise you won’t tell anybody? Right – I have never read any of the Percy Jackson series.

I know! I know! It’s terrible. It’s awful. It’s practically a crime in the book world! If I was saying this on tumblr I might actually have been hunted down and locked away, but, I’m afraid it’s true. Talk to me about camp-half blood, Greek mythology or funny dyslexic heroes and all you’ll be met with is a blank stare and a polite cough.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. Trust me – I have. I bought the book earlier this year and intended to have finished the series and be excitedly scribbling out fan-fiction by the end of June. I would finally be part of this manic Percy craze that had consumed the universe. I felt like reading this series would be my rite of passage into the book blogging world, I would be accepted into some kind of unspoken cult!

But, it just didn’t happen. I have picked up Percy Jackson a countless number of times, my determination growing more forceful every time – I would read this book. I would! But, each time, without fail, I would reach chapter four and lose all interest, my motivation vanishing like it was part of some clever magic trick. If this is frustrating for you, imagine how irritable it got me. I was trying so hard, so ridiculously hard, to read this book and make the world happy but I just couldn’t do it. It was just so… boring.

I could practically hear the pitch forks being sharpened as I wrote that word. Boring. I found Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief monotonously boring. So shoot me! Tear up my membership card and ban me from the metaphorical bookblogging club! It’s true! For a girl of my age Percy Jackson is boring.

My issue, I think, is that I never read Percy Jackson as a child. If I had read it aged 9 or 10 like everybody else then I know it would consumed my world in one large bite. But read it for the first time now, it just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s a children’s book. The writing style is meant for children. You can’t expect me to switch from my heart diet of teen fiction and angst to a simplistically written fantasy just like that! I can’t connect with the characters or the story because there just isn’t enough depth and substance for an older reader to work with. This sounds so pretentious, but it wasn’t Percy Jackson’s plotline that turned me so completely off, but the writing style simply wasn’t sophisticated enough for me.

I know a lot of Percy Jackson fans my age and older and they will defend the series with their life. They are completely unable to understand what’s stopping me from diving head-first into their world. They would happily read that first book over and over again forever if they had to, why shouldn’t I be able to do the same? But, for them, the first Percy Jackson book is a nostalgia thing. It holds meaning for them as a book that was so important to them growing up. They can read that first chapter and feel like the excited little kid again. For me, Percy Jackson holds no meaning or significance. It is just another children’s book that sadly I have long since outgrown.

‘Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone’ I think is a prime example of this. I can switch from ‘The Lord of the Flies’ to that faithful first book so easily you would think they were of the same genre. Harry Potter is familiar and warm for me. It reminds me of being 7 years old and yelling the word ‘muggle’ at anyone who crossed me. It brings me back to one of my first experiences of getting excited over a book or a series. However, I know that if I read that book now, it wouldn’t do anything for me, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it.

You don’t expect a teenager to shop in the children’s section usually. You don’t ever see a sixteen-year old girl walking out of Waterstones excitedly with the next ‘Goosebumps’ book in her hands. In fact, some would even ridicule me if I did. So why should you expect me to react any differently to Percy Jackson. I will not deny that it is well-written book with a spectacular plotline as long as you do not deny that it was not intended for my age range.

I’m sorry. I really am sorry. For writing this blog, for thinking these thoughts, for not forcing myself through Percy Jackson in the first place! I don’t mean to offend such a massive, passionate fanbase or ridicule your personal reading tastes – if you’re excited about Percy Jackson then that’s fantastic! But, Percy Jackson just isn’t for me. He wasn’t there when I was the book-curious 8 year old who needed him and he’s only now appeared that I am a teenager reader with no interest whatsoever. I’m going to stop pretending that I’m ever going to read the series. I’m going to put the book on my bookshelf and it probably won’t move for many, many years. This is just way that I feel. I’m sorry, Percy. I’m sorry.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Three Book Curse


          This week’s blog may seem a little bit far-fetched but I need you to hear me out. I’ve made a discovery that I believe may prove the existence of dark voodoo magic in the book world. Maybe. It’s just a theory, and feel free to yell at me down in the comments section but it would be morally wrong not to let you in on such a major scientific revelation.
       So here it is: I believe that the third book in every dystopian series is cursed. I really do think that there is some kind of mystical nonsense going on here because no matter how untouchable an author may seem, as soon as they release that long-anticipated third and final novel, the entire series seems to just crumble into the dirt.
         Okay, so maybe that’s a little harsh. But seriously, I haven’t in a very long time read the third book in a trilogy and thought: ‘Yes, that was brilliant. That met all of my expectations and more!’ Every time I get my eager trembling hands on that final book the same thing happens: I buy it, so ridiculously enthusiastic to embark on what I am sure will be the most glorious, eye-opening, heart-stopping adventure I have ever been on and by the time I’m finished all I can think is… Meh.

          But, this wouldn’t be science without a little evidence now would it? Well, sadly I can provide you with quite a lot. The best example I have of this would be Suzanne Collins’ ‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay . The series had so much promise. Everyone was talking about it! When the second book came out the whole world was setting itself alight with ‘Catching Fire’ excitement. Walk into any high-school during the hunger games craze and I can guarantee you would see at least five three-finger salutes, seven Katniss braids and two furious battles over who was best: Finnick, Gale or Peeta? But sadly, after everyone had finally blazed their way through the third and final book there was an overwhelming sense of disappointment.
          The book wasn’t bad by any means but, let’s face it, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t the shining golden trophy of a book that everyone had been waiting for, more a 3rd place bronze medal. Bronze is okay, it’s still winning, but it isn’t exactly… desirable. At first everyone was shell-shocked. How could this possibly be? We began to grieve. Pretending it hadn’t happened. Denying with all our might that the book might be anything less than wonderful, amazing, golden. But, now that some time has passed, I think we can accept it – it really wasn’t very good.

         Why though? Why wasn’t it very good? Lauren Oliver’s ‘Requiem’, Veronica Roth’s ‘Allegiant’, Scott Westerfield’s ‘Specials’, Malorie Blackman’s ‘Checkmate’,  Ally Condie’s ‘Reached’   The list goes on. How is it that so many promising series’ could plunge so horrifically into mediocrity?
          Maybe there is too much pressure on the writer to finish well? Once you’ve written two of the most astounding books you’ve ever written it must be very difficult to muster the same incredible amount of writing-brilliance from inside to do it for a third and final time. How in the world do you come up with an ending that will do the series any justice? Everyone’s watching and waiting for you to write a book so good that it could compete with the bible in greatness. How the hell do you do it? You don’t. Maybe it’s impossible.

           But as I professor in the science of reading I have done my research and I know that this just doesn’t prove true. No, the blame for this book-based tragedy should not be placed on the writer but, in fact, on us, the reader. It is our fault. We just get too darn excited!

          We can’t help ourselves, especially with the dystopian genre! It’s new and modern with juicy plotlines and gorgeous love-interests. When books are this good, how can we help ourselves? Besides, it’s fun to get all hyped up! Dystopian fiction seems to be able to create a buzz like no other genre. Entire communities are formed in appreciation for the series’, stocked with enough fanart to put London’s National Gallery to shame.
         But we get so carried away with all our excitement that we accidentally give the series impossible, unreachable expectations. Two great books is enough to pull down the galaxy and put stars in our eyes. If the first and second books were that good then the third book has to be even better! The third book will be the book to end all books! Right?

        Wrong. It’s our greatest downfall. We fall in love with a series so deeply and passionately that we inadvertently destroy anything that could possibly come next. We crown writers as royalty when really all they are is just a few normal chaps and chapettes who quite like writing stories.

           We are the voodoo doctors who inflicted such a terrible, terrible curse. And we are the only ones who can fix things. We have to stop ruining things for ourselves. I’m not saying don’t get so excited, I’m just saying, put it in perspective.  Realise that what you want may not be the same as what the writer imagines and try and accept that. And if it really is awful that doesn’t have to be the end - Re-write for yourself! Fanficiton is the ultimate way to both get excited over a series and get exactly what you want out of it! It’s fun too!

          And with that, I close my scientific case. The research has been done, the experiment carried out and the evaluation written. It’s time to take my lab-coat off and put up my feet. But next time you start a new dystopian series be careful. Only you can save us from the terrible, frightening, Three Book Curse.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Reader Problems Tag

Hello, my little addicts (Oh my, that is so your nickname now!), this is Evie coming back at you with another Tag post! Today I have had the honor of being tagged to do the Reading Problems Tag by Izzy over at The Reading Izzy! That girl is seriously great so go on and take a moment to hop on over to her blog? This tag was created by another awesome blogging buddy named Jay from over at Books ByJay! (She’s nice too, I swear!)

So, let’s quit yacking and get right down to it!

    1.   You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
I am a horrific mood reader, me! If I am just not in the mood to read something then I simply can’t. My heart has to be in it, you know? How could I possibly read crime when I crave the sweet romantic pages of Anna and the French Kiss (I'm always in the mood for Anna...)? Read some sickly sweet and fluffy when all I want to do is strike a dramatic life-affirming pose and read a good feminist biography, huh? You see my point.

    2.   You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
Oh, my. All the secrets are coming out now, aren’t they? Sadly I’m a quitter. Quitters never win, winners never quit… But at least quitters don’t find out that Dumbledore dies, right? (I can say that little spoiler because it’s just about the worst kept secret ever.

    3.   The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
Well actually, this is the first year I’ve ever attempted the goodreads challenge (why not check out my goodreads here?), but if I’m having a bit of a slump, not reading as fast as I’d like, well I like to take a trip to the local bookshop. Just the site of all those fresh-smelling paperbacks is enough to send me spiraling into a reading frenzy. TBR? What TBR?!

    4.   The covers of a series you love do not match. How do you cope?
I cope just fine thank you very much! I think a little bit of mix and match gives a bookshelf character, you know? Livens things up a bit! Why go red, red, red, when you can go red, green, blue, indigo, NEON YELLOW, black, white, rainbow, shartruce?! Besides, you should never judge a book by it’s cover! (She says a little guiltily…)


    5.   Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
Well, I’d love to talk to you guys about it but I’m always so scared to write a bad review… But trust me, I may seem all nicey-nicey online but just see me in my Modern Studies class when someone starts talking about Sarah Manning or Carol Ann Duffy! I’m a wolf.

    6.   You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
This actually happened to me in a reading lesson at school a few years ago when I was reading ‘Marley and Me’ for the first time. I think if you hold back the tears it kind of tampers with your overall experience of the book so I just bent my head and covered the 300th page onwards with fresh salty tears! But luckily, with a book like that, all that I needed to say for the rest of the day when people questioned the puffy eyed look I was rockin’ was a simple, emotional ‘Marley’. They understood.

7. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?!?!?
Oh man, cry in frustration. I am such a simpleton. I STILL haven’t read Allegiant just because I can’t be bothered to spend a couple days going back over Divergent and Insurgent! It’s like, I’m dying to read it, but I’m also super lazy, but also I can’t remember whether Tris is Dauntless or Amity?! My brain goes into overdrive and deletes the very idea of the book I was wanting to read in order to avoid the prospects of a complete Evie meltdown!

    8.   You do not want anyone—ANYONE—borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
Well actually, I’m usually the one forcing books into other people’s hands! If I love a book then I absolutely need other people to love it to, otherwise I’ll have almost no release (well, apart from you lovely lot of course) for all my bookish emotions, and trust me - I usually have quite a lot of emotions. But every now and then there is that one person who will keep my book for years or bring it back like they used it to wipe the kitchen table, and in that case all you have to do is pull on your innocent eyes and tell them sweetly that you’ve already lent that book to your mum/auntie/sister/cousin/dog and so you couldn’t possibly give it to them for another 99 years… sorry! Problem solved.

    9.   Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
I’ve actually done all my scientific research on the reading slump already and have published my ground-breaking findings in a post right here: How to Cure the Reading Slump! So, if you really want to know, and you know how to open a new tab you can just go read that! Go on, I’ll wait here.
   10.  There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
Well, being sixteen, I’m poorer that bloomin’ Oliver Twist, so probably not as many as I’d like! Occasionally I beg my family to spend a few quid on poor old me, like the little begging cretin I am, but mostly I just harbor all the teeny tiny pennies in my purse until I can afford one or two all on my own!

Rich little blighters. 

   11.  After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
I finish whatever I’m reading and then GO, GO, GO! I don’t see any point in waiting until my excitement has died a slow and painful death to read a book! All the fun is the buy-and-read-immediately buzz!

And that, my little addicts, (see, I told you I was gonna use it!) was the Reader Problems Tag! It was such lovely fun, but what would make it even more fun if we could have a wee chat about some of your answers to these questions down in the comments section. It’s comfy and warm down there, you’ll like it!

But before we do so, I would like to tag a few of the best blogging pioneers in the business (bar Izzy and Jay of course!)

Morrighan Rose from Elysian Fields Book Reviews
My girl Tika from Fangirl Confessions
Ellen from Quest Reviews
And finally, Emily from Forever Literary

Thank you very much addicts! ( the third time makes it a definite thing )