So… I for some reason thought it would be clever to read Dune. Over the years I’ve heard a lot about it. Supposedly one of the best Sci-Fi books ever, a masterpiece, a magnificent… something.
Lets get it out of the way. I liked it, I did. It’s well-written, it’s well-built, the world feels like one I’ve known for ages. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s almost like this is just a small story in a universe that has much that came before and after it. I’ve read a lot of novels in the Warcraft universe, and I’ve played all those games since I was little, and this feels a little like that. Like a novel set in the middle of something I’m familiar with.
But at the same time, this was incredibly boring. There’s lots of stuff going on, don’t get me wrong, but hardly any of it was even remotely interesting. I felt like I was being fed lore or background history, waiting for the real story to start.
I’m not sure why, I liked most of the characters (even though there are far too many of them. Took me ages before I could start making sense of who was who), I just wasn’t interested in what they did. And the few scenes that were supposed to be interesting died away with over-explained over-detailed descriptions. like the fight scenes. They read like an instruction manual, not an action scene.
Also, Frank Herbert really loved the word presently. (He said, presently).
But I figure I could use Dune as an example, to talk about something else. Because by now you’re probably wondering why I finished the book. Why I even bothered? Well, first of all, I kind of liked it, even though it was boring. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, it’s just not super… exciting and gripping. Not all books need to be action-packed, I’ve read the Silmarillion as well, and that’s about as fast-paced as a dictionary.
I very rarely not finish books. They have to be properly unreadable before I put them away. That’s both because I’m slightly OCD (I don’t like to leave things unfinished), and because I take a while to make up my mind. People often say that the first page has to hook the reader, and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been hooked by the first page. Sometimes I’m halfway through a book before I even know what to think of it. Sometimes the ending can reveal things, or turn things around that makes me love it, even though I wasn’t super into it to begin with. (Or that can happen the other way around, I can hate it by the end).
Maybe it has to do with me loving thrillers, mystery, and horror. Imagine you put on a movie, a thriller that’s really slow and weird on the uptake. If you stop it after twenty minutes because ‘nothing’s happened’, you really don’t get the point of thrillers and mysteries. I played a video game called Bioshock recently. It’s talked about as one of the best games ever in the last decade. I didn’t think much of it, I actually thought it was really boring… until the end, when it got really good.
And I’m not saying you shouldn’t put down books if you’re bored. By all means, find something that excites you. I’m just explaining why I am the way I am, maybe reading a book all the way till the end, before I decide. I like to hold all the cards before I make up my mind. That’s all.
Anyway, I’m giving Dune some credit, seeing as it’s written in the ’60s. And in one sense, I do still like it. I think maybe I’ll read it again in a few years (even though I rarely do that), and we’ll see. But if you’re looking for a grand, well-written Sci-Fi adventure, with massive world-building and cool characters, maybe give this a go. Hopefully you’ll be less bored than I was.