Saturday, January 14, 2006

Two Mediocre Books

Well, I just finished two pretty unsatisfying books. One was The Trial, by Franz Kafka, and the other was The Supernaturalist, by this guy named "Eoin Colfer." I could not wait for either of them to be over.

Kafka's book is, obviously, about a trial. Its prose has that charming cadence that only comes when translating German into English, but it's at about that point where its entertainment value ended for me. I'm aware that this is an important piece of literature and all that, and that "Kafkaesque" has entered our common lexicon (according to the back of the book), but it was just kind of boring.

Any sympathy one might have for the main character as he is persecuted by a faceless bureaucracy is insensibly siphoned away as he does stupid thing after stupid thing and worries and wrings his hands over bits of manners and protocol. I know I'm supposed to be shocked and horrified by Kafka's image of the world here, but I dunno, yawn, I guess.

One part of note is the appendices. There's an afterword by the fellow who published this book after Kafka's death. It largely has to do with how Kafka wanted all his papers burnt upon his death and how this guy found Kafka's will and then, instead of burning his papers, he published them in book form. This part, though, okay, it's forgivable, because of Literature and Posterity or whatever. We have this great book now because he ignored Kafka's dying wish. But then the guy proceeds to publish Kafka's diary there in the back of the book, Appendix F or something. It's the poor man's innermost thoughts about him feeling lonely and scared and all that jazz. Anyways, it was kind of sickening to me.

Next we have The Supernaturalist. This one my mom gave to me from the high school library book fair. It's a young adult novel, which is usually a recipe for success in my book. This one though, uninspired. 4 kids band together to save the world from little glowing alien things that only they can see. Sounds pretty good, but it never really goes anywhere.

The universe is sort of like a kid's version of Bladerunner, with that Future of the 80's feel to it. Giant polluted city, no ozone layer, giant corporations that control everything, conspiracies, all that standard stuff. The plot twists are either uninspired or predictable, and the manuscript has more than its fair share of glaring typos that I was kind of surprised made it through the editing process (or the spell checker).

I think this book might actually be pretty fun and good to the age group for which it is intended, but where Harry Potter is also fun for adults to read, this one isn't so much. Even if you are a kid in the right age range, I would skip it - there are plenty of better options out there. Like Dragonlance.

Let's hope the third time's the charm here. I might have to go back to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire pretty soon.


At 1/15/2006 01:44:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

You should read this guy's site. He's trying to read one book every week, which, to me, sounds like an astronomical amount:

At 1/15/2006 08:41:00 AM, Blogger i heart dorks said...

One a week? What an underachiever - Matt completes between 1 and 3 a week.

At 1/16/2006 08:37:00 AM, Blogger Ross said...


He always did have a good heart...

At 2/27/2006 11:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - if you are interested in doing a good deed in the next 12 hours I've got one for you.

I'm the mom of a kid w. special needs who needs to do a "bookshare" on the Supernaturalists. He read it but can't quite give me the info I need to help him complete the assignment. I need to know what happens (summary) after Cosmo and Stefan wake up in the Myishi tower.

A -


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