Monday, February 7, 2011

Dust by Elizabeth Bear

I really, really, really hate to not finish a book. But I also dislike forcing myself to read something I extremely dislike when there are so many good books to read.

I really wanted to like the novel Dust by Elizabeth Bear. It is the January 2010 selection for the Woman of Sci-Fi Online Book Club. I like science fiction and I like women authors so it seemed like a great challenge to me.

I got about to page 132 of Dust and that is as far as I could get. It probably didn’t help that I was sick, but every time I tried to read Dust, day, after day, after day, I would literally fall asleep as soon as I would try to read it. It happened quite consistently. The novel I read directly after dust (Walking with Elephants) had the opposite problem, I couldn’t put it down.

Dust is a strange science fiction novel. Rien is a servant for Ariane, a Princess of the House of Rule. Rien is sent to care for Perceval, an angel whose wings were severed by Ariane on the battlefield. Rien soon learns that she is actually Perceval’s sister and helps her to escape. Watching over them all is the mysterious figure, Jacob Dust. That is about all I could gather while I was reading the book. It seems like they were all on a large mysterious space ship. But I couldn’t really tell what they were on, what exactly they were fighting about, or what exactly they were. It was rather aggravating.

Great science fiction to me has compelling characters and a great story that sets your mind in motion. I didn't like any of the characters in this book and the storyline was hard to follow and boring.

Did I give up on this book too soon? Does anyone else have a great love for this novel? Have you ever tried to read a novel and you just couldn’t get into it?

Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library


  1. I gave up on this book too. I just could not get into the story, nor the characters. Actually, I felt a bit lost in the world which I can usually work through IF I have some sort of connection with the characters. However, I think I will put this book on pause and read it another point in time because I am now very curious as to why soooo many people over at the book club did indeed like this book, and/or saw great things within the pages. I am hoping that I will like the next book for the club.

    By the way, I put this book down because I decided that I have too many other books that I *want* to read to spend any more time with a book that I am struggling with to find some like with the read.

  2. I did finish the book, but I didn't really like it. There are a fair number of disappointed readers like us commenting over at dreamsandspeculations, too. I think a lot of the fans of it were impressed by the world-building. Many (including me) felt little to no emotional attachment to the characters.

    I think that Elizabeth Bear was trying to take a whole bunch of well-worn tropes and bind them together into a thrilling and surprising story. To me, it just ended up reading like a bundle of well-worn tropes.

  3. I'm glad it wasn't just me! I'm hoping the pick for this month goes better. I agree with both of you, I didn't really feel any connection with the characters.