Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 11 - A book you hated

The Angel's Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I read this book immediately after reading Zafón's better known work The Shadow of the Wind, which was quite good and somewhat Borgesian and made me want more. They are actually set in the same world and approximately the same timeline; this book is set several years earlier.

I had a singularly bizarre reading experience with this one. I read it almost entirely (or perhaps straight-up entirely) in one day. This is utterly unheard of for me. I just couldn't put it down. I was totally fascinated and it felt very appropriate for me at that time (it is about a struggling writer) and it was spooky and atmospheric and all that good stuff.

And then, suddenly and inobtrusively, it turned on me.

I think it started to go bad before I even realized it. Thinking back on it now, though it is largely a blur, there was some stuff happening that I was on board with at the time, before I started getting a bad feeling, which later became awful and frustrating as I realized none of it had made any sense, and that my trust in the author's willingness to tie it all together was in vain. This book scared me, and not in a way I enjoyed. It scared me in a way that kind of messed me up for a few days, and I would be really hard-pressed to explain why. It was dark, but no darker than some other stuff I've read. Something about it just really started to rub me the wrong way, until before I knew it I hated the protagonist, and the direction the story was going, and the way that every idea I had about the plot was turning out to be wrong, leaving me feeling disoriented and betrayed. All that may not be enough to ascribe so strong a word as hate, but that isn't the end.

Though I did my best to blot this book from my memory immediately after reading it, I do recall that the end of this book was a fucking nightmare. There's no way to explain without spoiling it, so, if you have any reason to believe you might read this and feel differently, skip over the next paragraph.

So as I recall, this totally batshit emotionally manipulative asshole of a protagonist (and none of that in a fun, exciting, relatable way, if you ask me) has this woman that he's just obsessed with, and when he loses her somehow he sinks into deep depression, which is all pretty interesting except she keeps coming back and like, she's in an asylum, and then she winds up DEAD SOMEHOW (???) but he still can't forget her (maybe it was me getting tired of reading about heterosexuals, but oh my god, I was so bored by this) and then after all this other weird shit goes down and the book crashes to a chaotic, upsetting halt, there's this incredibly strange epilogue type thing where... as an older, tired, regret-filled man, he comes into the care of a young girl, who he somehow knows to be his fucking beloved. So like, the book ends with him in his sixties taking care of an eleven year old version of his girlfriend. UMMMMMMM if that doesn't sound like some whacked out Twilight bullshit to you, then I can't help you. I for one was profoundly put off by this ending and it made me reevaluate everything that had happened and in general I felt like the whole thing had been a huge waste.

This book was weird. I know a lot of people have enjoyed it and I guess there are reasons to defend it. But of all the books I haven't enjoyed or have found boring or have failed to connect with, this is the only one that jumps to mind when I think of "hate." Yuck.

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