Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What I'm Reading 2

Previously, I posted that I was reading my husband's first novel-length Harry Potter fan fiction story. I actually tore my way through the other two stories in short order despite their great length. In my opinion, his writing matured remarkably from book to book with the last one written pretty much ending up as a viable novel in terms of pacing and writing style. The final book, Phoenix Intuition, was by far my favorite because the story was compelling and the pace excellent.

Ironically, the book that I liked the most was the one that the fans who read his stories on Fiction Alley (a Harry Potter fan fiction repository) liked the least. I found this somewhat curious but upon further reflection decided that it's likely that I don't read these stories with the same hopes and expectations as a fan fiction reader. I approach the books as, well, books. The average fan fiction reader is looking to vicariously experience the character's reality. They like extended scenes where the characters talk to each other and banter. I just want the story to move along.

Since finishing his Harry Potter stories (and frankly wishing there were more but not wanting to surrender my time with him to allow him to write another even if he was inclined to do so), I started reading the first book in the Dragonriders of Pern series, Dragonflight. This is a very popular and, I believe, classic fantasy series which my sister has read before. In fact, I think we picked up a used copy at Good Day Books on her recommendation.

I've nearly finished the book and, while I'm generally pleased with the "world" in which the story takes place, there are some elements that I'm rather unhappy with. Before I go about complaining, I have to admit that I'm a very harsh critic as a reader. It takes a lot to make me happy with a book and my poor husband frequently is subjected to my whining about this or that in whatever book I'm reading. That's probably why I have tended in the past to stick to non-fiction for the most part. Non-fiction can be boring or repetitive but you don't have to worry about story pacing, structure, depth or characterizations.

With Dragonflight, I was immediately turned off by the romance novel characterizations of the main male and female characters. I'm not keen on the tall, slender, long-haired, often secretly powerful heroine who is cold and calculating but eventually warms to the muscular, powerful, and strong man who pursues her. The characters do develop a bit but they never get too far above the characters you see on the cover of bodice-rippers.

If you dislike the main characters, you're pretty much left with the story and the story is pretty thin because this is the first book of a trilogy and it isn't carried very far. The basic story, which I won't spoil, is about a world where dragons are used to fight a recurrent problem that could destory the planet. There's some political infighting and a cultural overview of the society. There's also some interesting science-fiction-style development. I'm guessing the better part of the story is reserved for the remaining two novels and the first was used to establish the framework of the world and the characters.

At this point, I have to decide if the story is compelling enough to push me to move on to the next book in the series. I haven't quite made the decision yet but I'm thinking that I'll at least give something different a try before I consider reading the next Dragonriders of Pern book.

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