Adult, Books

Smoke by Dan Vyleta Review

I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I did not finish this book.

It is very rare indeed for me to give up on a book.  Even if I hate a book I will try and push through until the end because then I can give a holistic review of what I honestly found terrible about it.  However, I tried to finish this several times this week, I even kept myself from starting a book that I got on release day and have been excited about for months in an attempt to get this done, because I promised I would talk about here.  I feel as if I have failed in part, but I at least want to talk about why exactly I couldn’t bring myself to finish it because maybe that is valid as well.


Title: Smoke
Author: Dan Vyleta
Publisher: Doubleday
Page #: 448
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Alright I would like to say that I made it a little over a third of the way through this book.  Please keep this in mind.  Perhaps something happened in the last two thirds of the book that make it mind blowing and if so, please tell me and I will eat my words and push through until the end, but honestly from what I read, I doubt that is the case.

This is not the type of book I would normally pick up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love magical realism when it is done right.  I like the way that the supernatural can be used as a symbol for societal problems.  That was perhaps the reason I requested this book from the publisher.  The premise intrigued me.  It intrigued me enough to over look the fact that it was historical fiction.  Many of you know that I have a hard time reading books that were published before 1900, partially because the things I find interesting about literature don’t really start showing up until modernism in my opinion but also because I have had to read so many books about rich British boys doing things in up and coming England while the girls sit around in parlors chatting about the wealth or intrigue of the day.  It is so boring for me.  I was hoping the magical realism element and the mystery surrounding that would override my distaste for the time period in which this book was cast.

I am not sure that it was completely able to do it, (especially since I felt like the author was bashing us over the head with the moral instead of letting the magical realism hold its own) but my problems with this book were not merely of taste.  If it was just my taste I would have no problem saying, hey if you like this type of book then here is a good one, but I can’t even say that.

It isn’t a terrible book.  If it was bad I would push through to tell you why, it was completely and utterly ordinary.  It read like a very safe young adult novel (aside from the fact that the protagonists were boys and there was not even a hint of love triangles to be found [at least within the first third]).  The problem I had was that this was pitched to me as adult literature.  Now teen aged protagonists does not a young adult novel make.  However there is a marked difference, I feel, in the caliber of the writing, or at least the expectation of a certain caliber of writing between the two.  There was nothing interesting about the way this was written.

To be honest, I can over look that for an interesting plot.  The plot dragged on for me, and I wasn’t even past the rising action.  I can slog through bland prose for characters I love.  I didn’t love these characters, I didn’t even hate these characters.  I was completely and utterly unmoved by any aspect of this novel.

That is why I couldn’t finish it.

Now I would never say, take my word for it.  If the premise sounds interesting to you and you don’t mind ordinary prose then by all means, pick this book up, it comes out next week.  I just wanted to let you know why for me, this wasn’t a winner.

I will be moving it to a DNF folder on Goodreads with a read status (without a star rating because I do not feel I can accurately rate the book without having finished it).

If you pick this one up and you think I am completely wrong on this, please come back here and tell me about it, or send me a message elsewhere on my social media, because I don’t like DNFing books.  I hardly ever do it.  I sometimes put down books, but honestly it is very rare to give up on a book entirely.  It would seem, at least for me, that apathy is the last straw in a lot of ways.


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