Booking Through Thursday – Worst Best Book

19Mar09

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What’s the worst best book you’ve ever read – the one everyone says is great, but you can’t figure out why?

There are two books I can immediately think of: Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. My friends were raving about both books, and I think both spent a good three months on the bestsellers chart, before I even ventured near them to give them a shot. 

The Da Vinci Code – A book that was so factually incorrect, that it seemed that the so-called ‘facts’ the book was based on was also part of the fiction. I thought it was either poorly researched, or commercially controversial, or both. The history of Christianity has been tweaked to Brown’s convenience, and almost none of the facts about Leonardo Da Vinci are accurate. If that’s not bad enough, the plot itself is weak (if you’ve read more than three Agatha Christies in your life, you probably read the book with your head in your hands, out of sheer frustration). Sometimes, you inadvertently end up judging the lead characters for not picking up things that stare them in the face, begging to be noticed. And finally, as the good ol’ folks at the New York Times commented on this unfortunate bestseller:

Dan Brown’s best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence

The Kite Runner – I don’t think I’ve found a lead character more despicable and annoying than Amir. He’s selfish, jealous, cowardly, and thinks the world of himself. To top it off, he’s the narrator, and justifies each and every one of his ridiculous actions, and that just makes him all the more despicable. And then there’s Hassan, the subservient ‘best friend’ to Amir. He could have been the shining light of this book – the saving grace, if you like. However, his character was that of a doormat, and while that is understandable, to an extent (he was one of the house-help’s son), it still resulted in me finding little to no sympathy for him. 

 The book itself left little to the imagination. It had everything spelt out for the reader, almost like it was a book catering to eight year olds. The imagery and description seemed forced, for lack of better words. It was like Hosseini a second-hand account of Afghanistan. I delved into that a little, and discovered that he hadn’t been to Afghanistan since he left the country at a young age. He recently went to the country just so that he could familiarize himself with the background of the book. Hmm – nice and commercial, just like the story line. 

And finally – the language was appalling. It was almost as though the first draft had found its way to the publisher, and no one decided to edit it at all. Reading the book was definitely one of the worst experiences of my life.

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