Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Slow Starters: The Paranormal Edition

Opposite to this topic, I wrote about The Draw of an Awesome Beginning with four books that drew me from the word Go over on Operation Awesome. Check that out if you're not for the slow burn described below.

It's time for another round of the blog chain and Shaun started us off with this question:

What are three books you would tell people that they need to keep reading even if they aren't immediately sucked in by the first page?

This was so hard for me. I looked at my shelves and realized, I don't read a lot of books that don't hook my attention past the first thirty pages. I give each book a chance (I try to give it 100 pages) and if I just can't get into it, I quit. There are too many books and life is too short to spend time on nonstarters. 

But I did find a couple books in my collection which I would and have recommended despite them taking me a few pages to fall in love with. They are:

WINGS by Aprilynne Pike
Laurel's life is the very definition of normal... until the morning when she wakes up to discover a flower blooming from her back. As it turns out, nothing in Laurel's life is what it seems. Now, with the help of an alluring faerie sentry who holds the key to her true past, Laurel must race to save her human family from the centuries-old faerie enemies who walk among them. 
It wasn't a boring beginning. It begins with Laurel's first day at school after homeschooling her whole life. That's a pretty big step to take in your life, and definitely interesting. It just wasn't paranormal interesting, which is what I expected when I picked it up. However, once the paranormal stuff does rev up, it's awesome. Aprilynne Pike put an entirely unique spin on the faerie species, something I've never seen or heard of in any other story. Beyond that, her villains were very scary. And the love triangle, while infuriating, worked. The small glimpse we see of the faerie world, Avalon, made me eager for the second installment, which I pretty much devoured. So yeah, this book is worth reading. And if you're used to contemporary fiction that begins with an ordinary school day made special by a big change, you probably won't even notice the slow start. (The fourth book comes out April 2012, so this series is still going.)

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf - her wolf - watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace... until now. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human - and Grace must fight to keep him - even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

The first line: I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.

That's a pretty compelling starter! And yet, I had trouble getting into this book at first. It just goes to show you that every reader is different, I guess. Or maybe that I'm just a weird reader. But the entire first few pages, I didn't know how to care about Grace... not until Sam sees her in the bookstore and she becomes really important. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else. Everyone I know loves this book, and I definitely came around once it got going. The paranormal aspect was there from the very beginning, but it wasn't until I fully comprehended the romance aspect that the story spoke to me. After that, it was hard to put this book down. I love that Maggie Stiefvater succeeded in re-imagining werewolves (difficult to do in an already paranormal-saturated market). And the idea of them running out of human time completely just broke my heart. I highly recommend it, even to people who don't always love paranormal books. (It's a complete trilogy, the third and last installment coming out last year.)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife—between desire and danger. 
Now that you all know I'm crazy, it's safe to proceed with my third "slow starter." Twilight. I know she has that snazzy beginning about how she never imagined how she would die but she supposes it's good to die in place of someone you love. LOVED that bit. But then it goes to Bella moving from Arizona to Forks and how she feels about it. Nothing wrong with it. It was just slow for me. I even related to it, having moved from Arizona to northern Utah for college and being shocked by the climate change. Still, if it hadn't been for both my parents telling me how epic this book was, I probably wouldn't have read it as quickly as I did. I gave it time to get better because I wanted to find that spark that impressed them. And, oh boy, did I find that spark! To this day, I don't know any author who writes conflicted passion like Stephenie Meyer. Genius. Plus, her re-imagining of vampires was probably the spark that inspired both the authors above, even if they don't want to admit it. And re-imaginings of tired old tropes ROCK!  (You all know the story about how many books and when they were published.) {{If you haven't read this yet, what are you waiting for?}}

So I learned something about myself through this exercise: I'm not a very patient reader. *apologetic smile* If it's not rockin' from the beginning, I'm not eating it up. So I guess it's a good thing I instituted my first 100 pages rule. At least I know I'll always give a good book a decent chance. 

What books have you loved after a rocky start?

Be sure to check out Kate's post before mine and Michelle H. tomorrow!

p.s. An interesting note: When I asked my husband for his feedback before writing this post, he suggested Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I just stared at him and told him, "You know, most people say that's one of the best beginnings they've ever read." He was surprised to hear that. For him, too slow even to keep reading. So this really is all in the eye of the beholder.


  1. I can't believe I've actually read two of these. Great examples, Katrina!

  2. I felt the same way about Shiver! So I never jumped onto the bandwagon...I'm willing to give it a try now.

  3. Such interesting choices. I've read all of these and I don't remember them being slow. But I'm the kind of reader that finishes almost every book I start.

  4. Shiver was definitely a slow starter for me. I loved the beginning with her being attacked by the wolves, but then everything slows down. I kept reading cause everyone raved about that book, but I was seriously ten chapters in and still didn't know if I liked the book.

    And the bad thing is, it's like that with the second the third (and final) books too. I wanted to read the second book because I ended up liking the ending of the first book, but it didn't get good until halfway in. Then, I liked the ending of book two so I read book three, but that book bored the hell out of me again until about the halfway point.

    The other two books (Wings and Twilight) I didn't mind as much for being slow starters ... and I think it's because I could actually relate to the main characters. I think that was why getting into Shiver was so hard. The writing was unquestionably beautiful, but how are you supposed to relate to a girl who's been attacked by wolves and then sits around dreaming about them and putting herself in their path again and again? Seriously, the girl was in love with a wolf before she knew it was a werewolf.

  5. Wow, so I'm not the only one who felt this way at the beginning of a popular book. That's comforting. Guess I'm not so crazy after all. :) Thanks, guys!

  6. For me, THE BOOK THIEF was like that. Death's voice was so dry but then, once you got into the story it was totally worth it.

  7. Wings sounds interesting, and I see Shiver praised a lot elsewhere too.

  8. Good examples. I felt the same way about Wings, and ended up enjoying it. Same thing happened when I read Incarceron, and that one was great too.

  9. Angela, been meaning to read The Book Thief. I bought it for my m-i-l for Christmas without reading it (not something I usually do) but luckily she loved it. Guess it's time I actually picked it up!

    Sandra, yes, Shiver has been praised a ton. I haven't read the sequels, but really enjoyed the first book. Like another commenter said, the WRITING is great.

    Shallee, ooh, thank you for reminding me that Incarceron is on my TBR list. It sounds like something I'll love. I'm glad to know even if it starts out slow, it's worth the wait.

  10. Twilight is on my list too LOL And I am still trying to get through Incarceron. I actually gave up on it about 40 pages in - I do love the premise though so maybe I'll give it another try...

  11. Heard lots of things about Twilight. All the hype of the movies can kind of make me stay away from reading the story, although normally the opposite holds true for me. We'll see...

  12. I agree on Shiver, for sure! Normally I wouldn't continue, but I found Stiefvater's writing too beautiful to ignore.

  13. I've read all of those and enjoyed them. I know I know...I enjoyed Twilight. And yes, it was a SLOW start!

  14. So true about it being different for everyone! Twilight was a book I got into immediately. I had similar issues with Shiver but enjoyed it as well. As for Aprilynn Pike, I heard great things about her. I'll check that book out!

  15. I should add to my comment above: She lost me on Linger and I have yet to finish my beautifully signed and illustrated copy!!

  16. I agree that Twilight was a slow starter, I was honestly ready to put it down, but then once she realized he was a vampire things started to pick up.

  17. Shiver was a slow starter for me too, but in the end I really enjoyed it. Twilight I read before I started writing and I did enjoy it. But I was less picky back then. I've tried reading it since I started writing, and I can't get going on it. Writing has definitely changed the way I read. :)

  18. I'm shocked by your husband's reaction to ATU. I really enjoyed that book in spite of the romantic aspects, which I kind of maybe felt were a little too starry eyed and sweet. But the beginning hooked me.


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