Over the months that my blog has been rather sparsely attended I accumulated a few titles that I didn’t love but I didn’t hate, either. That means it’s time for another installation of the Meh Mashup. Here are the latest titles that just didn’t do much for me.
The Teleportation Accident came to me highly recommended. When I see people get excited about a book that way, I have to find out why. I purchased a copy and it was the first book I picked up after I decided I was going to read more of my own books. While my overall reaction may in part be explained by my general disinclination to read at the time, this book read slowly. I really enjoyed Egon Loeser’s character, especially his unselfconscious way of communicating with others how flabbergasted he is that they are having sex while he isn’t. That incredulity never failed to amuse me, but that was not enough to keep the book moving. There were some interesting twists and turns, yet I felt as though the book as a whole went right over my head. I may have done better with this novel in a classroom setting or while reading it along with others. As neither of those luxuries applied, I was happy to close the book and put it back on the shelf after I’d finished it. That I didn’t DNF it says something, I suppose.
The Shining Girls starts with an excellent premise. Harper Curtis, a grisly murderer, is able to move through time to find girls who seem to shine for him. He is compelled to kill them, but not necessarily the first time they meet. Often he leaves a trinket with his victim while they are younger and then returns when the time is right. This story is told from the perspective of the killer, several of his victims, and a sports writer from modern day. Of special interest is Kirby Mazrachi, the only victim who survived Curtis’ attack. This failure must be rectified. I read this book in audio. Several narrators collaborated on this project and found the work of Peter Ganim and Kristine Hvam especially good. They gave voice to the main characters in the novel and I found the ways in which their stories connected the most compelling. The stories of the additional victims were what watered down the tension and my enjoyment of the novel itself. Over time, as I understood they were to be killed in short order, my ability to take any interest in their lives withered. While I remained interested in how the book would end throughout, these additional points of view made this book just okay for me.
If ever a book was right up my alley, I was sure it was Burial Rites. This novel about Agnes, a young Icelandic woman convicted of murder and sentenced to death, made me want to read it immediately. I was thrilled when I received my copy after winning a Shelf Awareness contest. In the end, I think I would have done better to have waited to pick it up in audio. I have this issue with reading words and names that I cannot pronounce. I wish I could easily mentally substitute a familiar word or name for those I can’t pronounce, but I can’t. Instead, they slow me down and frustrate me. Even after I had adjusted to the language, the book never really picked up speed. I did find the relationships between Agnes and the family forced to house her as she awaited her execution interesting, but it was not enough to bring enjoyment to reading it. That I wanted to love this book made my indifferent response that much more disappointing. I ended up reading this with my online Hashtags reading group. While I was not alone in my feelings, there were others who liked this book much more than I did.
Louise Beeston is a woman with issues. Her younger neighbor continues to play loud music that keeps her awake to the point of ruining her quality of life due to an endless loop of anxiety and sleep deprivation. While this problem is very much at the forefront when The Orphan Choir begins, but what really gets to Louise is the fact that she and her husband agreed to allow their young son to attend an exclusive boarding school that has the best boy’s choir around. When she finds herself at the end of her tether with her neighbor she calls the local authorities. What follows should have been creepy, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that I felt Louise should have been hospitalized. I found her to be odd and overly attached to her son at the beginning and unhinged as the novel progresses. Because of this, I doubted her as the narrator and couldn’t get caught up in the dangers she perceived. I finished this book because I found Louise’s mental deterioration interesting and I held on to the hope that the freaky stuff would eventually make itself known. By the time the story kicked up, I distrusted Louise so much I didn’t believe a word she said. I’m unsure of the author’s intent, but it left me cold and disappointed.