Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Over My Head

I've never understood people who enjoy shopping, because I really don't. Even shopping for books doesn't really thrill me. But lordamercy, do I understand acquisition.

I went to the Cambridge Public Library today. It's a big, shiny new building with vast, sprawling shelves of shining new books. I swear somebody bought all those books in the children's room just last week. I was dumbstruck, and then I checked out about six books, to add to the 20 I already had.

I'm about to start on The Dead-Tossed Waves, which is a "companion book"--not exactly a sequel--to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I was very excited about this book--'cause hey, zombies--but even just reading the first page, I'm remembering why I actually didn't love Hands and Teeth as much as I expected to. It was a really fantastic premise and world, but the actual story it was telling was somehow unfocused. It sprawled along, didn't wound back on itself, didn't really seem to know where it was going.

I think I've figured out why, though, just from the first page of Dead-Tossed. It's because the point of the book--it's driving force--is young lust. It's not a zombie story, or an adventure story or a survival story. It's about a girl who loves and wants a boy who for various (vague, hard to understand) reasons, she can't have. However much they're learning the secrets of their world and running for their lives, that's not why you're reading this story. The story was written because of lust.

And that's a valid, compelling reason to write a book. Look at Twilight, for crying out loud, with barely the pretense of a plot (all of which takes place in the last fifth of the book), just lots of gazing and longing and aching. Look at Harlequin, but also look at a lot of great literature about lust (I understand Proust addresses the subject). It's not even romance, it's just desire, and it's a perfectly valid thing to structure your book around.

But it's not really my kind of book. I think that Hands and Teeth makes more sense to me now that I think of it as a coming of age emotional story with a zombie setting, but it doesn't make me like it any more. Which is a shame, because the world building is really so great.

Ah, well. The great thing about literature today is that there's always another zombie book to be read. And the great thing about libraries is that they're free!

No comments: