The Quick: Why I quit reading after 90 pages
I usually don’t sit down to write immediately after wrapping up a book. I like to give myself at least 24 hours to both distance myself from the emotion of the story, and let the meaningful themes and ideas sink in.
But tonight, I am a bit upset, and I’m not waiting. And if this book is a must-read for you, you may not want to read this post because it (apparently, according to others’ reviews who finished the book in its 544 page entirety) contains a spoiler.
I heard about Lauren Owen’s The Quick from several different sources. Generally touting its awesomeness and how excited we should all be to read this stunning piece of literary fiction. A debut to die for. Emotionally involving. Beguiling. Suspenseful. Thrilling. Blah blah blah.
There are three distinct facets to my upsettedness.
One: the genre. Normally I try to go in as blind as I can to a book that is all hyped up (or most books, for that matter). So, this time of course I went ahead and did not read any reviews or anything. I only read the stock synopsis that has been floating around, and can be found on Goodreads etc. As per usual, once you start reading the book you realize the summary tells almost nothing useful. This is a freaking vampire story. I love a good surprise and all, but not a genre surprise. Not a paranormal, blood sucking creature surprise. And we find out 70 pages into the book. Four hundred and eighty freaking pages of vampire, coming right up folks. I. do not. read. vampire stories. Thank you.
Two: the pace. Life before vampires—40 pages into this book I was considering shutting it down. I had yet to connect with the story. Shortly before the big V-reveal, there is a piece of the story that I did find myself becoming interested in, but then the characters were dropped (I suspect for only a limited time but I did not make it back to them) to introduce the vampires. Mostly, it felt like a slog. I often feel like classic british literature moves too slowly for me, and this reminded me a lot of that— Middlemarch or Great Expectations or something of that nature.
Three: the audio narration. Yes, I read many books this way because I have poor eyesight (read about it here). Sometimes british narrators bother me, and other times I can get used to the character they bring to the book. This time it unfortunately turned out to be a distraction for me. I once noticed on one of the reviews of Children of Men by PD James that the narrator was horridly distracting (I listened to the excerpt and sure enough it was), I listen to every excerpt I want to purchase to check the narrator’s voice. So, I did go in this time in admitted (in hindsight) denial that I would be okay with the voice. Nothing against British accents, but I just don’t hear them often and so I have to listen a lot harder, which, I think, is what wrecks the experience for me.
On the upside, since I bought this file from Audible, I get to return it and get something else. Though this time maybe I will get a recommendation from someone other than the lovers of The Quick.
2 thoughts on “The Quick: Why I quit reading after 90 pages”
The “big spoiler” is vampires—haha! I mean, yeah, there are twists here and there, but a lot of folks reading this did not expect the fangs. I read the book’s description, comparing it to Anne Rice. That, and the print version has a website holding Bram Stroker’s Dracula. Knowing this going in, it was a very enjoyable read (no more tween vamp books). The subtle clues in the beginning—out all night, dark red stains on the lips, inside during the day—were more enjoyable knowing what was coming. I feel terribly sorry for the many, many folks going in expecting pure historical fiction. It is funny at the same time. Sorry.
And, yeah, poor narration will kill the book.
I guess I just didn’t expect vampires to be a surprise. I obviously haven’t read many vampire books in my life. 🙂 but as I said I was having trouble with it even before the first “bloodletting.”