An Unconventional Comparison

I just finished reading two books I was reading simultaneously – It Happened One Autumn and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

(spoiler warning)

I was really looking forward to reading the Miss P. novel but like a couple times these past few months, I was so disappointed that I needed a quick fix of something that would not disappoint.

rg

Miss P. book was hailed by many sites as a good (sometimes even excellent) book. A spooky trip to a universe where we are not the only hominide species in the world. It was supposed to deliver suspense and magic, interesting plot and engaging characters. Sadly, the book failed on so many levels that I was literally counting pages until the end and hoping against hope that I was wrong in my count!

Let’s start from the beginning – the main character is an IDIOT. He’s just stupid! He’s a 16-y-o kid who sees something and then suffers because of it. And with the help of a shrink and parents with too much money goes on a trip to a spooky island and there tries to discover what killed his grandfather and to discover if the stories his gramps told him were true. All this happens at such an excruciating pace that I swear there were at least 900 pages of the exposition part (when there were only around 100)!

When he finally arrives to the island he discovers there’s a time loop stuck in 1940s with all the peculiar children. And then shit starts perhaps happening, but then not really, and then yeah, perhaps, it just might be happening. And then the kid falls in love with the girl who used to date his gramps and who is 90 or something but is stuck in the body of a teenager.

Now, the kid starts finding out stuff, but since he is an idjt you as a reader literally have to wait for a page or two of asinine questions until he understands the information he’s just heard.

This book in my opinion suffers from a few ailments:

indeciditis – an acute (but not cute) inability to decide what genre it’s going to be and who it’s going to be written for. It’s supposed to be a horror but I who get scared seeing a trailer for a spooky movie was extremely not moved to fright at any point. Also I love YA novels but this is not it – some elements are for pre-teens, some are for YA, whereas the idea is one that should have been packaged for adults (but only perhaps with slightly older characters).

– self-helpitis – annoying motivational statements, quotes and advice, and, of course, a mandatory “look how vast the universe is” thought:

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.” 
                               ...
“When someone won't let you in, eventually you stop knocking.” 
                               ...
“If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize that we were alone?”

– crepusculitis (from latin crepusculum = twilight) – the annoying influence of Twilight on the formation of characters for YA books – one character suffers a loss, believes him/her-self to be strange, unable to fit in with the crowd, another character who’s stuck in time being a teenager, and what follows is a poorly executed plot and questionable relationship.

– uneditoritis – the prevailing sense that the editor was either absent or in love with the author. There are pages and pages of shite I’d remove.

and this leads us to a final ailment:

– LeGiunitis absentis – the lack of the guiding force of Ursula Le Guin for the writer. She is the master of removing the unnecessary over-explanations which appear on almost every page of this book. The author should read Dispossessed and see how she spends less time explaining the minutiae of a different world than he does explaining the slight variation of our own!

And so we reach the “bodice-ripping” novel that is It Happened One Autumn.

I was so tired from trying to read Miss P that I desperately wanted something simple and honest. And I reached for the second part of the Wallflowers series of novels by Lisa Kleypas. And boy was I right to do so!

Just like John Wick (review by nicoll) this book is honest – it does EXACTLY what it says on the covers (just look at them!):

lk2

lk

 

There’s a strange American girl (not the most polite person and not accomplished at all if judged by Miss Bingley) and a brooding, horse-back-riding, shirt-unbuttoned hunk of a man with more money than anyone else around him, and of course proving MrsBennet right, since he is “in want of a wife.” The American acquires a “magic” perfume, he takes one whiff and all his inhibitions are gone. They hate each other, they fight, they kiss, they fight, she gets drunk, they sleep together, they fight, they sleep together, his mum’s a bitch and has her abducted, he saves her and kicks the abductor’s (fine) ass, they get married since they’re so close to Gretna Green and they… yeah, you’ve guessed it … live happily ever after having loads of hot steaming sex!

And that is all one expects from a book like this. Nothing more and nothing less. It does not pretend to be anything more.

Now, had Riggs written this book the abduction would last at least 100 pages, whereas here it was barely a chapter! And that’s the point! There is no point in delaying the plot (unless you are trying to set the atmosphere, which Riggs is sadly failing to do)!

Final thoughts:

there are sequels to both these novels – Hollow City (MissP) and Devil in Winter (Wallflowers) – the former I don’t think I’ll ever read, the latter I’m already half way through.

Ok, I’ll end my rant here because the more I think about MissP novel, the more I feel the urge to give it a one star rating and not a two stars as I have given it.

Until next time – GoReadUrsulaLeGuin!

 

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