Friday, July 19, 2019

When your reading tastes change: or Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2)Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3)


Guys I just don't know why I do this to myself.

First let me start off by saying: Patrick Ness is an AMAZING author, and you should absolutely read this series! It's incredibly well crafted in every possible way.  The world that Ness has built is so entirely different than any other book I've ever read. (Sidenote: I am curious how the audiobook versions of these work, because font plays such a big role in reading these and helping to create the world building).  You also fall in love with characters that you never thought you could possibly forgive, and the characters you love TO PIECES make some truly awful choices - and through all of it, your heart is just breaking for every character as you see these horrible decisions they make that are being informed partially by circumstance and partially through trauma.  It is really hard to balance all of this and maintain the heart of each character while keeping an incredibly intense plot going all set in a very foreign type of world building.  To say that Patrick Ness is a master at his craft is an understatement.

But.

I don't think I can read soul destroying books the way I used to. I just don't have it in me. I'm going to have to seriously consider whether I am going to read any of Ness's other books, because I just really don't know if I can put myself through that. And again - he is an INCREDIBLE author! I've just changed a lot as a reader, and for whatever reasons am only capable of small amounts of emotional pain here and needs lots of fluff.  AND I JUST READ A SHUSTERMAN NOVEL AND TWO NESS NOVELS BACK TO BACK BECAUSE I AM CLEARLY A SADIST. Or an idiot. (I'm an idiot). So perhaps my mistake was just lumping in 3 incredibly emotionally fraught stories together back to back, and maybe I'll be able to read the tough books again.

I feel I used to seek these stories out more frequently though back when I first started blogging. I used to THRIVE on the soul crushing brutality and felt like stories didn't ring true unless someone had something utterly awful happen to them/die.  (I crowned Sarah Rees Brennan the True Queen of heart stompery.  I still stand by absolutely LOVING her writing).  I do think that I was a lot more dismissive of "fluffy stories", (I have admitted more than once that I keep finding hidden pockets of snobbery left in me on reading tastes) and while I have always loved historical romances, I thought paranormal romances were AWFUL.  Here we are years later, and for the past year, paranormal romance has ended up being my MOST read genre, and I've been finding many contemporary (of the fluffy sort) stories that I am actually excited to get my hands on.

So....what changed?

I'm not entirely sure, to be honest.  Some of it is that is completely normal (and expected) for reading tastes to change. That's just part of human and tastes are always evolving. I guess I just always thought I would actually start liking adult contemporary (of the unhappy marriages and middle age crises) or go back to reading more classics. I didn't see myself as going towards lighter fare.  (It does look as if I will never find adult contemporary literature any less baffling, but then who knows?).  I have a few theories:

1. My only prior experience to paranormal romance had basically been Twilight.  While I appreciate what it did for YA literature in the marketing sense, and how many readers it got back into reading at all, it's definitely not what I'm looking for.  As I've read more in the genre it is clear how much diversity and positive sexuality you find readily available. So it's a combination of finding writing that I find engaging and not necessarily enjoying paranormal romance aimed at young adults (and to be fair, I'm hardly in the correct demographic for that anymore).

2. Most of my experience with contemporary has been with "issue" books, which clearly with my not being able to handle traumatic experiences is probably still not a good choice for me at the moment.  Again, I think it's been a combination of me overcoming some stigmas that I have undeservedly set up, and a matter of discovering writing styles that suit me well.  Even in the books that rip my heart out, I very much enjoy snark and humour (I reiterate, Sarah Rees Brennan is QUEEN.)

3. Maybe being younger makes you more resilient to tragic reading experiences, from the sheer standpoint that statistically the longer you live the more likely you are to have them (not always true, of course).  While I'd like to think this is the case, I was definitely reading brutal books at a time when I was dealing with multiple loved ones having died or dealing with terminal illness, so I'm not sure this one rings true for me.  That being said, there has been some of that going on in the past year, so maybe there is something to be said for it.  Maybe I'm just dealing with grief a little differently?  Regardless, I've definitely reached my threshold of being able to cope with books that hurt.  Fluffy books can still challenge how I think about the world, but make me feel good about the world at the end of it.


So where does that leave me?  I do think books like this series are important.  I do think that I would be missing out if I stopped reading books like these.  And maybe this is just a phase, like not reading paranormal romance was and I'll be able to come back.  After all, it took me THREE YEARS to recover from the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, so maybe it's just a matter of time.  (And I'll have to be VERY choosy about what sad books I read since it is clear I am not going to get to many of them). 

Needless to say, I am going to be reading the equivalent of cotton candy for a while I think.  Send me all your fluffiest recommendations in any genre!

9 comments:

  1. OMG. I couldn't reread Walking Chaos...you know why. I can read "issue" books (I love a good family drama), but it has to have a glimmer of hope or redemption in there for me. I don't necessarily want my books to mirror real life. That's depressing enough right now.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe that's why it destroyed me so much - it was definitely less hopeful. And also Manchee (aka the reason I didn't reread the first book before diving in). I know they are making a series out of the books and....I will not be watching it.

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  2. Tastes definitely change, and sometimes even just temporarily, I think? I never used to read contemporaries but now I do. Same with thriller/ mysteries (I mean I like suspense and mysteries but I just never read those books). Stuff like Big Little Lies, even. Why would I read that?? But I did, and loved it. So yeah who knows lol?

    And to be honest, there's nothing WRONG with wanting/ needing fluffier reads, or just happier reads. The world doesn't always have to be about angst and pain, and the same goes for reading I suppose. I like a dark and tense read but I also like happiness and happy endings haha!

    So I'd say no worries! Go wherever your reading tastes take you at the moment! :)

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    Replies
    1. That's funny because I definitely associate you with thriller/mysteries for some reason haha!

      Yeah I'm definitely appreciating fluffy reads way more these days. And on the upside, I may never have gone to urban fantasy/paranormal romance to quite the level I have without it, because even when there are big emotional hits, they are cushioned by lots of snarky quips so it makes it easier for me haha

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