Slow and Steady Doesn’t Always Win the Race

books_glassesI don’t mind a book that takes its time, builds a world, characters, situation. A book that meanders through the plot or doesn’t even have  a plot as such, a book that’s about the characters or a slice of life sometimes works very well. But when a book is suppose to be a thriller or have a dramatic plotline, it’s really irritating when it takes, sometimes up to over half the book to get to that bit.

I remember when I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. It was highly recommended by several friends whose taste I respected. I read. And read. And nearly 200 pages in, still nothing really had happened. I was advised to stick with it because it would turn on the proverbial dime any time. It did but it was quite a slog getting there! The rest of the book was “edge of your seat” and the other two in the trilogy each started off with a bang.

Currently, I’m ready Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer. It’s science fiction in the near future and the blurb on Goodreads and Amazon reads:

“Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from twenty years previously–a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible–change human nature–before the entire world descends into darkness.”

Ok, sounds good. He finds out pretty early on that he’s lost six months of memory. At 55% into the book, I only just got to the “stunning discovery” and possibly a hint of that “rising tide of violence and hate”. At 65%, I would say the “rising tide” has began. Without spoiling things, I’ve read some of the other reviews on Goodreads and there is at least one other quite dramatic plot twist going to happen but Good Grief, at this point in the book, you’d think the plot would have advanced and be well into all that to give the protagonists time to work out a solution and implement it. When they do, I have a feeling it’s going to feel rushed, simplified and tidy. Aside from that irritatingly slow build up, and an overload of science that my brain doesn’t take in, the story is pretty good. Stay tuned for the review of the book once I find out how this is going to end!

I’ve read other books like that and not just in science fiction. Maybe SciFi takes longer because the science or world has to be set up though that hasn’t always been my experience. You could do both things at the same time if you juggle it right.

Seinfeld was a tv show about “nothing”, it was the characters and the situation they found themselves in, every day life, somewhat exaggerated for the comedy. I don’t mind a book like that as long as the characters are interesting and the writing is good. But if I am expecting dramatic, I don’t want to be reading the book and thinking “get on with it!” Slow and Steady isn’t always rewarding if the author is promising high drama or action. Maybe, in this case, I’m just not patient enough to appreciate how the author is leading the reader into the story.


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