I used to do this more often when I was younger – sometimes in a bookshop but also at the library. Pick a book at random, where I knew nothing about the book or author in advance, and let it surprise me.
I like the idea of not knowing anything much about a book or writer before going in, it has the potential to be.. anything. These days I tend to do a lot of research before picking a book. I’ll look up the writer, I’ll look up reviews (being careful to always read some of the negative ones), I’ll see what categories the book has been tagged with, check if any of my friends have read it and ask their opinions, etc. This all because life is too short to read bad books. But once in a while it’s nice to be surprised…
I saw this particular book categorised as New in Sci-fi in the book store last spring, and the cover and title immediately intrigued me. I like Sci-fi, and I love time travel, so this was promising. I opened it and read the first paragraph. It begins thusly:
“Dear Mrs Haven, This morning I woke up to find myself excused from time.”
How can you not want to continue reading that?? It’s one of the most promising beginnings to a novel I’ve ever read.
It is eloquently and cleverly written, with a lot of interesting musings on time and physics, and by the time I was about 1/3 into the book I had already recommended it to a couple of my friends.
Then I read a bit further and kind of wished I hadn’t.
While the story and the theories presented in the book are fascinating, it ultimately fails to capture me. I feel as if the author at some point loses the plot and becomes more preoccupied with writing well thought out sentences about time travel or cults. It becomes heavy to read and ended up taking me months to finish, because I just couldn’t focus on it for very long at a time.
There’s also very little depth of character or emotion, I found myself not really caring about any of the characters, and I feel as if the book was written more as an intellectual exercise than anything else.
And the ending was anti-climactic.
So, it started out really well, but sadly did not live up to my expectations.