Three Books That Fell Flat

Don’t you hate when you pick up a book you’re sure you’re going to love, but it falls flat? I dread that “meh” feeling. Or worse, you end up abandoning it? Here are three of my recent reads that did just that.

fell flat

Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley

I abandoned this about 30% of the way through. The characters were pretentious, privileged, and cold. I was so, so, so bored, and I didn’t care about a single one of the characters. Actually, I pretty actively disliked them. And knowing this is a character-driven novel, I couldn’t muster the desire to keep reading. Those of you who finished: Did I give up too soon?

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

This started out great, but somewhere along the way I started getting bored. From the halfway point on, I felt like I was slogging to the end. These characters weren’t interesting to me, and came across cliche, as far as musicians go. I don’t have strong feelings about the novel. But the writing is absolutely lovely, and that kept me going. I’m sure I’ll give Gabel another try in the future.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Donoghue does historical settings really, really well (see Frog Music). That holds true in The Wonder, too. I definitely felt like I was in that time and place. But wow, our main character, Lib, harbored so much anti-Catholic, anti-Irish sentiment, combined with such a grouchy, snobby demeanor, that it felt artificial and overdone and got in the way of character development. Lib does come to see how her own prejudices get in the way of her scientific observations, but she doesn’t do much with that realization. I also have super mixed feelings about the ending. Can I like it and resent it at the same time?

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How about you? Have you read any “meh” books lately? Any that you set aside?