by Sara N.
What is wrong with me?
No, really. I'm actually asking. I just logged onto my local library's website to request a sequel to a book I griped about the entire time I was reading. You see, even though I thought the book was poorly paced and lazily plotted, I ... I want to see what happens next.
Why? Why do I do this? And do any of you do this, too?
My theory is that some books are interesting in spite of themselves. Take, for instance, the books in questions here: Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy. The first book, A Discovery of Witches, was so lauded in the popular media, that I thought, At last! A genre novel that the wide public will read and love! This could be the book that helps introduce non-genre readers to the delights of fantasy novels!
found it to be a chore to read, particularly the first half. (Our heroine goes to the library. She eats a meal. She goes rowing. She naps. She goes back to the library. She does yoga. She naps. Eats. Rows. Library. Naps. Eats. Yoga. So dull!) How disappointing to find that the book that was getting such glowing reviews in the mainstream media turned out to contain one of the most clichéd immortal romance tropes,* wherein the ancient vampire, after centuries alone, finds himself inexplicably drawn to a mortal woman — a mortal woman who discovers she may just have the specialest of all special magical powers out there. Gee, how often have I read that before? I couldn't believe that this mediocre book was earning such praise from big-name book review outlets, especially with more worthy genre fiction out there being ignored in the mainstream media.
And yet, the sequel, Shadow of Night, is winging its way to me as I type this. So why, you may ask, am I going back for a second dose of trite paranormal romance? Well, Discovery ended in a cliffhanger that I won't spoil here, but it's one that I find irresistible. Even though the pacing was torturous and the love story was unoriginal, Harkness raised enough intriguing themes that I want to see where she goes with them. In this universe, relationships between vampires and witches are taboo, perhaps because of the ancient origins of both creatures. I want to see how this evolves, and what the origin stories will reveal. The death of the heroine's parents seems to have an untold story behind it; I look forward to that onion being peeled. And of course, I'm wild with curiosity about the big cliffhanger/twist that happened in the final pages of book 1. That particular plot element is like catnip to me, so I'll put up with quite a bit of badness just to explore what happens in this new setting. (Sorry for being so mysterious; I don't want to ruin it for anyone who might be thinking of picking up the first book. I mean, how could you not after this glowing recommendation?)
Anyway, when I do pick up Shadow of Night, I fully expect to roll my eyes the whole time over the "I have crossed oceans of time to find you" immortal romance crap (which, to be fair, was incredibly sexy when Gary Oldman said it in Dracula). The good news is that the book's new setting should at least keep the heroine from incessantly doing yoga and rowing, so my fingers are crossed for a zippier pace and more action.
Am I the only person who will stick with subpar writing in the pursuit of bigger ideas? Do any of you have a book series you've kept reading despite annoyance with parts of it? Or am I just a masochist?
*As always, a caveat: I read and love many romance novels. Please don't view this post as critical of the whole romance genre. Some novels are better than others, and I try to stick with only the good ones. A Discovery of Witches is not one of the good ones.