Why 2015 was a bad year for reading

Why 2015 was a bad year for reading
I read, but not nearly as much as I should. And I somehow never end up reading a book when it just comes out. I’m always only catching up. Then I have entire years where I am unable to read anything but a particular genre that strikes my fancy.

For instance, 2013 was the year I got caught in the rising popularity of dystopian fiction. I started with the Hunger Games series and then went on to cover the Maze Runner series, Divergent series,The Giver series among other. And 2014 went down as the year I was obsessed with Neil Gaiman. I spent most of the year buried in everything by Gaiman that I could get my hands on (or afford!).

Someone gifted me Ocean At The End Of The Lane and thus began my obsession. I would talk on and on about Gaiman to anybody who would listen. I splurged on book after book and a member of the family, picking up on the mania, gifted me the entire Sandman collection. By then I had already covered the Anansi Boys, American Gods, The Graveyard Books, Stardust and a few others.

Unfortunately, 2015 has not been a year I would ever boast about. A little directionless in terms of reading choices, I seemed to only pick up books that I would go on to either not finish, or finish half-heartedly. Here are five from that list which disappointed me greatly:

Take Back The Skies, Lucy Saxon
This was my first book of the year. Written by the author at the age of 16, Take Back The Skies, first in what is on its way to becoming a six-part series, seemed promising. Set in the fictional world of Tellus, the book is about 14-year-old Catherine Hunter, or Cat. Daughter of a senior government official, Cat belongs to the privileged class but longs to escape the clutches of her father, whom she hates, and make her own way in the world. So, disguised as a boy, she manages to escape as a stow away on Stormdancer, a ship almost like any other from our world, except that it can fly.

It sounded interesting enough. However, right from the first few chapters, the plot and characters seem to lack depth. The reader isn’t told enough about her relationship with her father and her degree of hate towards him remains mostly unexplained. She leaves an ailing mother behind, which seems out of sync with whatever you’ve been told so far about Cat.  Once on the ship, nothing much happens for a long time, leaving you bored.

The language, a bit forced and unnatural, contributes to the aforementioned lack of depth in characters. I might pick up the second in the series, The Almost King, which was released this year, but only in the hopes that it is better than the first.

The Avatari, Raghu Srinivasan
I read glowing reviews of The Avatari and, in search of a bit of a thrill, picked it up. I’m aware I’m in the minority when I say I was mostly disappointed. The book follows retired British army officer Henry Ashton as he embarks on a journey to fulfil a promise he made years ago. Starting in London, Ashton travels through Africa, India, Pakistan and Northern Afghanistan decoding myths and legends. Weaving in and out of mythical worlds, author Raghu Srinivasan managed to create a believable enough plot and an engaging character but the moments of action are few and far between and the plot moves at a slow pace. The Avatari had none of the speed or thrill I expect from the genre.

Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy, Helen Fielding
I read my first Bridget Jones in college and for months after, my best friend and I spoke like Bridget. She was funny, charming, not a diva and, like most of us, was constantly putting her foot in her mouth. Bridget was one of us. I started reading Mad About The Boy, the third book in the series, released 14 years after the second, hoping to once again immerse myself in Bridget’s funny little world.

Alas, it had none of the originality or wit I had come to associate with the brilliant character Helen Fielding created. Bridget over the years seems to have lost most of her charm and has been reduced to a more farcical version of herself from 20 years ago. I will probably faithfully read any other Bridget Jones related book that might come out in future, but mostly out of my loyalty towards the 30-something singleton Bridget.

Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman was one of the most highly anticipated books this year. To Kill A Mockingbird is a book that appears on every must-read list in the English speaking world, and for good reason. So when it was revealed that a new book by Lee was being released and would involve Atticus Finch and Scout, characters I had come to love and adore, it was cause for much excitement.

However, this turned out to be the most disturbing read of the year. Every page was a blow to all I hold dear about Mockingbird. Scout is now the adult Jean-Louise, Jem is dead and Atticus… Atticus is a white supremacist. Go Set A Watchman was a heartbreaking experience and might not have received even half the attention it did if it wasn’t for To Kill A Mockingbird.

The Shiva Trilogy, Amish Tripathi
What is the big deal about this trilogy? Might as well give it a go. This was the attitude with which I began reading the first in the Shiva Trilogy, The Immortals Of Meluha. Having read the first part I honestly cannot imagine reading the second.

With two dimensional characters, a formulaic approach to the plot, and the constantly-jarring modern-day slang spoken by Shiva, the first in the Shiva Trilogy was not something I would ever return to.