Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Dreaded Post...

I really wanted to look forward to posting a review of By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson. After reading so many glowing reviews I had very high hopes. I got the book for Christmas, and decided to not read it right away. I put it further down my to-read list, in hopes of saving it for a time when I could really hunker down and read it through uninterrupted. I expected to savor it, like a long-awaited dessert after a good meal.

Alas, that was not the case.

While Jill's writing is technically competent, I didn't find the story compelling. The plot seemed to creep along. I tired of the constant justifications of the characters for their actions. They seemed to mentally list every consequence before every decision.

Never did I feel submerged in the world, either. Nor did I ever hit a part where I felt I couldn't put the book down, and when it was down, I didn't feel drawn to pick it back up. To be honest, I got close to half-way through and decided not to go back to it at all. I've read many books where the characters' emotions became my emotions, where I forgot I was reading a book and the world around me disappeared as I lost myself in the story. This didn't happen here.

The characters were fairly well developed. I can't say they were flat, but I couldn't connect with them. Vrell especially. OK, go ahead and get your tomatoes ready to throw--I actually found Vrell to be annoying.

Yes, I know, this book has won awards. People talk as though the book is the shining light of the Christian spec-fic community. This review doesn't mean the book doesn't deserve the acclaim it has gotten. It only means I personally didn't love it.

I debated about not posting a review at all. I wanted very much to be able to support a fellow Christian spec-fic writer, and by no means do I want to tear other authors down. We have to be supportive of each other in order to keep the genre alive! But, should I hold back on bad reviews simply because they are books in my genre?

What do you think? Do we have an obligation to only focus on the positives? Or do we allow ourselves to voice our opinions no matter what?


Sonja Hutchinson said...

I appreciate any review, even if it's negative. There's nothing worse than hearing rave reviews, purchasing the book based on the reviews, then finding it a dud. That's happened one too many times for me. So I thank you for posting your honest opinion!

KM Wilsher said...

I think you have a responsibility to be honest. I have to admit, there are a couple of books that I wish I would have followed your example here. The Undead Trilogy is one of them.

I loved By Darkness Hid. I have to agree that Vrell was very annoying at first. When the book went into her POV, I didn't think I would go further. However, later I began to understand her, to like her even.

I know this must have been hard to write. I know there are a lot of praises for Jill Williamson out there, and it took guys to give us your true feelings.

Yep. You had to be honest. I bet Jill would say the same. Maybe you will like the sequel - if you pick it up LOL

Good review, Kat. Thanks!

Kat Heckenbach said...

Thanks, Sonja and KM. It was hard for me to write this, because I wanted so badly to like the book. But at the same time, it's why I felt I had to.

And I agree on The Undead Trilogy.I actually loved the first book, but the second one was too much of the same things over and over, and I dropped that one half-way through, too.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. I bet this had to be difficult to write. Isn't it strange how some people can love a book and others hate it?

It's just part of the game, I guess.

I loved this book. I thought it flowed very well and kept me intrigued enough to plow through it quickly. And I don't really enjoy reading REALLY long books.....

I'm in love with her writing skills. Her ability to describe things to me so I'm pulled into the story is inspiring.

Kat Heckenbach said...

I know know so many people feel the same as you, Lynn. And I don't want to make anyone who loves the book feel like I think less of them or of the author. It really is subjective. But I felt I needed to express my take on it. I knew most people would be in disagreement with me, and I'm ok with that :).

owo xD said...

You didn't like it? Man, I absolutely loved it. I actually think it's better than Donita K. Paul's latest, which is saying a lot coming from me!

KM's right, honesty is what counts. But I actually have less guts than you. I started reading a Christian Fantasy book that I had really high expectations for, and I just couldn't finish it. It was awful, and people are raving about it on Amazon! Maybe your post here will give me the courage to step up and say something... maybe.