Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Two depressing books: personal taste, content intention?

Way of the Wolf by EE Knight
->  Louisiana, 2065, 43rd year of the Kurian Order. Possessed of an unnatural hunger, bloodthirsty Reapers rule the planet, sucking out human blood and souls. Starting in revenge for the loss of his parents, on to fellow soldiers, Lieutenant David Valentine intends to fight back in this western-style frontier
 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
-> An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

Comment: Recently I've read two books that I considered depressing in general. Although one of them seemed worse in terms of content, I can't ignore the fact of how I felt by reading them and when I finished.
Both have in common the lack of hope. I don't mean to say the authors didn't have a purpose, which is rather obvious, actually, but for me, personally, the goal wasn't exactly clear. I think the books were too depressing and angsty to be savored. 
I think part of this reaction is my own take on life right now. I'm not in a happy place and reading about such depressing things puts me down and depresses me. It doesn't mean the books are bad or that they are trash, it just means I didn't enjoy them.

I have to say both had some good aspects but the story, which is the biggest aim in all this, didn't met my taste. I know I'm only one reader and perhaps my opinions don't really matter, but in the end of the day every reader does it for themselves. 
I consider myself a pretty eclectic reader, I don't stick only to the things I know I'll prefer. I also read things I know might not be to my preference and sometimes that's good, it's important to let go of the same, to try something else, to see if that author will be one of those that changes the game and makes us love a genre or a plot we normally wouldn't.
Isn't this the beauty of reading books?

I often wonder if it's true that some readers can read more serious toned books or those so called "erudite" books better than others, that some readers can understand or interpret them better than others. The kind of books one reads is still something as full of prejudice as any other activity in the world, I think.
I feel some books aren't for me and I don't like them. Does that mean I'm a lesser reader than someone who does like those books? I think we all judge others by several things including what we read but if we're honest to ourselves, when it comes to give up on things others condemn, do we really stop reading?
I think it works both ways. I don't look for more conceited books to look good, the same I don't give up on things I like because they aren't considered "better". So, each reader knows their own mind in the end. This means I'll keep trying books I usually wouldn't think of touching but that is a study on my own taste, not on what it means to my «reader identity» if we do have one!
Blood Meridian is a well liked fiction book based on real happenings. I liked the writing, the prose is easily read and unlike some readers, I liked how fast it looked and how small the sentences usually were. What I really disliked was the content. The plot didn't seem to have any goal besides death and suffering and the validity of how a human being can be the most horrendous of the animals. I guess we all have it in us, depending on the environment around us, the stimuli and conditions in which we live. Still, no matter the characterization and the intellectuality of any meaning intended, I did not like the story nor what it signifies. I read this one in PT.
Grade: 2/10

Way of the Wolf is an interesting UF/fantastic dystopian story about the Earth being ruled by aliens. I liked the main character's personality, bravery and knowledge things would have to change and he does try his best in fighting a sacred fight to gain humanity back, one day at a time. However it is depressing to think there are many books until something positive happens and that he is surrounded by degrading things and actions people make against each other and aliens against humans. The body count is high and the small hope one can find isn't enough to erase what I think is just suffering and death, one after the other in a repetitive and seemingly never ending cycle. 
Good things, concepts, but a too depressing execution and content and it was hard to find any reason to continue this series when even more degradation is sure to come.
Grade: 5/10

-> All in all, both books disappointed me. We always create some kind of expectation, maybe not about the perfection of a book, but of what we wish it would be. These two can be wonderful works of narrative art but, for me, they didn't work and that's it.


  1. You raise some very interesting questions! Your implication that where we are in life can affect our enjoyment of depressing books resonated with me. For decades I was able to read all over the map and devoured books like "Sophie's Choice" or "The Grapes of Wrath" (two of the most depressing books I've ever read). But could I read those today? No, I don't think so. My life is very different now.

    1. I truly believe this, Phyl. And yes I also think age matters. As we move along in life, everything around us changes in meaning, importance, goal.
      I totally understand older readers who say they no longer try anything they don't think they'll like. I still do this, whether it's a borrowed book which I read both for convenience and duty - and interest if I'm being honest - or books I collected and feel I should read. I guess some themes are easier to avoid, certain authors you learn to not be interested as experience and time goes by.
      But I still want to read things I usually wouldn't touch just to prove myelf I can. And I still religiously follow my personal rule of finishing all books. In some cases this is hard to accomplish. I foresee patience running out in a few years though (I'm turning 30 this year) lol

      Sure age in in our minds as much in out bodies but older people can do and want amazing things. But in this I do feel it changes how I see things.

      As for depressing books...these two just were the most recent but this has happened to me. I always tell myself why do I bother but there it is, that wishful thinking that that might be THE book that changes the whole purpose of disliking the genre/theme/plot/ concept, etc.

      Thank you for commenting. Sorry for the typos! I think I got them all, and then.... :/

    2. I'm coming up fast on 60, so I've had way more time to read a lot of those books we're "supposed" to read. I also used to compulsively finish everything I started. But age also gives me the luxury of saying with perfect truth, "life's too short for this." And so I can set aside the books I don't want to finish. Even if I've paid for them instead of borrowed them.

      You're doing great and I admire your ability/willingness to read more broadly. And, really, I found no typos :)

    3. You've touched a key point, when we pay for books we feel more pressured to read them and like them. I feel this occasionally with those books I struggle to read and finish and that have cost money. Our brain is weird it can make us feel guilty over this but then we spend lots on other things with less importance and it means nothing. (books are really high on my "important things" list)
      Happy reading!