January & February 2020 DNFs & Mini-Reviews

It was expecting them.

Conrad and Joanna Harrison, a young couple from Los Angeles, attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife….

Thus begins a story of possession, sexual obsession, and, ultimately, murder, as a centuries-old crime is reenacted in the present, turning Conrad and Joanna’s American dream into a relentless nightmare.

DNF after three chapters. This is a horny, misogynistic mess and not remotely worth my time or attention.

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence. As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret. Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us. Origin is Dan Brown’s most brilliant and entertaining novel to date.

This is Christian propaganda and Luddite fear-mongering masquerading as a thriller (with just a dash of homophobia sprinkled in at the end, just for flavor).

Spare yourself. Seriously. I want my time back.

I don't even know if this piece of shit warrants an in-depth review on my part. Maybe I'll write one eventually? It certainly doesn't deserve any more of my attention...

Ugh.

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen.

DNF at 36%

That's ~17.5 hours of the audiobook I listened to with ~30.5 left to go, and I just cannot justify forcing myself to listen to the rest of this. The plot is boring, the characters are almost all insufferable, and the whole thing is peppered with racism and drenched in misogyny.

This is not what I was expecting after IT turned out to be such a pleasant surprise. I'm going to give The Dark Half a try next, as that's what I can get right now from my library, but if that turns out to be a dud, too, King's going to be taking a backseat on my TBR list for a while.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

DNF @ 5%.

I don't think Flynn is for me. I loved the first half of Gone Girl because the book was masquerading as something it wasn't; I wanted it to be a story of an antihero (antivillain?) angry feminist evil mastermind getting back at her shitty husband, but apparently Flynn just wanted to write about how bitches be crazy. So I picked this novel up with that deep disappointment fresh in my mind, and I barely made it into this story before I realized I was probably wasting my time. The protagonist here is just a deeply unappealing person, and the narrative around her just isn't interesting enough to make up for the burden of having to deal with her. Moreover, the protagonist here is a mouthpiece for the same casual and internalized misogyny that helped ruin Gone Girl for me, and I am not remotely interested in putting myself through that again.

There is a very slim chance that I might still give Sharp Objects a look, but I think the likelihood of my enjoying it is now so low as to make any more attempts at reading Flynn's books a waste of my time. Oh, well.


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