the library at mount char by scott hawkins
For the 63% that I persisted with this book, I constantly vacillated back and forth as to whether I wanted to keep reading.
It's an interesting premise, though one difficult to explain and that's one of the elements that affected my ultimate decision to finally (and I was surprised at the moment I did) abandon the book.
A ragtag group of "Librarians" (which means both sort of what you assume it means and also very much not what you'd imagine it means) are responsible for a vast wealth of knowledge and are lead by a man called Father. Sound cult-ish to you? Like something deceptive is going on? Maybe. And I'm sort of assuming there are more answers if you finish the book, but I did not.
I have three primary reasons for my finally giving up. They each popped up at different times along the way but it was when they sort of all converged and overwhelmed me at around the 63% mark that I finally capitulated.
From the very first page, the reader is confused as to what's happening. It can be interesting and make for a fast read when you feel like you've been dropped into a story midway through the action so although it was bewildering, I was okay with this. Except I was still so damn confused more than halfway through the book. At that point it becomes an issue; if you don't understand much of what is happening or why, there's a point when you just stop trying (or caring).
I just couldn't manage to care all that much about any of the characters. There are a couple of leading protagonist-like characters and although I enjoyed aspects of them, there wasn't a whole lot for me to cling to and combined with not understanding their motivations, it festered further apathy.
And it was the violence that did me in. Well, it was all three of these things but together they finally wore me down. I can accept a certain level of violence in the books I read; I know I read some mysteries that other readers I know won't touch, and I find violence as action and elements of a good story as sometimes necessary or valid. But the violence here was just relentless. If you have a certain level of sensitivity to almost any category of violence, whether it be towards animals or humans or whether it be rape or disembowling or, really, anything you can imagine, you will almost certainly have some level of discomfort with this novel.
And to be honest, I quite likely could've managed to get past all the violence if the first two elements - characters I was concerned about, and if I could've understood why they did what they did - were there but that lack plus the violence finally made me realize I wasn't sure why I was torturing myself by persisting.
* Random House/Crown Publishing provided an early review copy of this novel, which will be released on June 16th, 2015.