I read a lot. Most of it is pretty good, but sometimes I’ll slog through a book and find myself wondering, “why is this so hard?” When that happens, I’ll usually start trying to analyze what I think the author is trying to do, and why it’s not working. And I usually learn something from that process. So what’s something you learned from a book that was hard to read? I’ll go first in the answers.
I had an experience like that recently with the third book in the Assassin’s Apprentice trilogy. I loved the 2nd book so much I absolutely couldn’t put it down, and the momentum carried me half way through the third book in almost a single afternoon before I realized “wait, this isn’t fun anymore.” The reason in that case might even be guessable from the title: “Assassin’s Quest.” Meaning the protagonist leaves the setting and characters you’ve become invested in over the previous two books.
That in itself doesn’t have to be terrible, but I feel like two things made it really difficult to deal with: First, the motivation for his being away as a long as he was is kind of a hand-wave. All the protagonists goals and desires would have had him doing something else, but an accidental psychic curse drew him onward. I realized this comes down to character “agency,” as the experts call it (something I don’t always understand very well, so this was a good lesson). Basically, Fitz never believed he was where he was supposed to be, so I didn’t either. Second, and far worse, while this was happening, important storylines started to be resolved off the page while the main character was away, reinforcing the idea that the stuff happening here was not the stuff I cared about. And that’s a shame, because there was a lot of stuff going on that was objectively interesting – I just couldn’t appreciate it because of the constant reminders that the story I had already cared about for two books was happening without me.