I feel a bit like Anton Ego from Ratatouille. Food was his life. And after many years of enjoying food, he developed a refined pallet for only the best. But there was so much bad food out there, that he couldn’t help but become cynical and over critical with each new review.
Although my opinions don’t carry as much weight as Ego’s, books have been my life for a very long time. I know good stories when I read them, and I know weak writing when I see it. Writing is not easy, I acknowledge this being a writer myself, and I recognize that in the past my reviews have been cynical and over critical. I can’t help it. My pallet for only the best seldom allows me to enjoy the less than best.
Since I started studying the craft and reading books with a critic’s eye, I began to see and recognize the traits of a truly great book. A truly great book will keep you up at night thinking about it. A truly great book will captivate you. A truly great book leaves you flipping that last page again and again, looking for more to magically appear. A truly great book has an authentic beauty to it that is difficult to describe, but is mesmerizing to say the least. A truly great book will leave you totally breathless.
Few books in my past have met that criteria, and I’m sad to say that even fewer do so now that I’ve begun to look so critical at the words before me. And my fear is that if I ever re-read one of these books I remember as being truly great, then I will find them now lacking. I fear I have set an unattainable goal… a holy grail that I measure every book that I read against. And I fear none will ever measure up.
I am searching for a truly great book.
For Christmas, I received a Kindle… an amazing device that I hope will help me get through my reading list much quicker. I began a book that has been waiting in queue for several months. I hoped to moderately enjoy the book, but I didn’t expect to be blown away. It is by a friend, and I felt a little obligated to read it. And I had already predetermined that I would not tell anyone I was reading, so that a review would not be expected… if I hated it, then I would be silent for my friend’s sake.
This book kept me up at night thinking about it. This book captivated me. This book left me flipping that last page again and again, looking for more to magically appear. This book had an authentic beauty that is difficult to describe, but is mesmerizing to say the least. This book left me totally breathless.
I could go into critic mode, sure. I could point on the small errors in editing and small plot points I might have changed. I could research modern scientific theories and try to poke holes in the science of the book.
But the beauty is not in those things. This book is not about science, or space travel, or computers. This books is about a broken man. It is about his life, the highs and the lows. It is about love and loss and regret and second chances. It is funny, smart, and layered with subtle complexity that the casual reader may not notice, but the critical eye can relish. This book is a beautiful work of art.
Paul, thank you for writing this. Thank you for giving me this beautiful story to absorb. I want you to know, that for the first time in about five years I am making a change to my Top 10 Books. Alpha Redemption now has its place there. If all of your writing is like this, then I will become one of your biggest supporters.
For everyone else… it doesn’t matter if you like sci-fi, you need to read this book. You need to experience the emergence of a truly great author during the days before his name will become household vocabulary. This book is why readers read and why writers write. It is the rare delicacy that those who devour books are seeking. And it is the ultimate standard that writers hope one day to mimic.
Readers – read it, savor it, and be changed.
Writers – read it, study it, and learn from a master.