Dead to Me
First off - I didn't have the patience to finish reading this particular book. I wanted to finish it, I tried very hard to finish reading. It was the last book for the New Author Mini Challenge, but I could not, in the end, force myself to finish it.
I can't really give just one reason why. There are quite a few reasons why I should have been able to finish this book.
The main character (Simon) can see visions of the past from objects he touches, and this complicates matters such as hot dates and sex. Naturally this is hard for him to handle, but there seemed to be quite a bit of angst here, almost whining. I can handle a little bit of this, but not too much. But I didn't really like the character. That usually isn't a must though, for me when reading a book. I don't have to like the character to enjoy a story. Sometimes the story is good because the character isn't good.
He gets a job with a super secret branch of the government (The Department of Extraordinary Affairs) that seems to use a lot of brochures in place of training for their investigators. He has a mentor in this department....This is a set up that normally would have kept my interest. But unfortunately, where before he seems almost a tough guy (he's been in trouble, gone down the wrong path using his gift) suddenly if feels like I'm reading a book with Beaver (Leave it To Beaver), and his co-stars as characters. Complete with "kid" and "Kiddo," for nicknames, lots of blushing from Simon, and what felt to me, a lot of personality changes within the first section of the book. The dialog reminded me of conversations between characters in a movie made in the 1940's or 50's, sometimes both. I kept checking to see what decade this was set in-yup - there are indicators that it's set at least after 1990 (references to game systems)
There's a point where Simon seems to fall instantly in love with a ghost, who doesn't realize she's a ghost, and not only is it a sudden love thing (that seems to have no basis, rhyme or reason - but hey, love is like that sometimes) , but he's teased about it by his mentor and hotly denies this.
Really, a lot of these details or pieces of the book normally would be interesting to me, or fun to read, but for some reason I just couldn't get into it. Anton Strout is a funny guy, I've read some of his posts on his blogs. I've read his interview. I've read the blurbs of his books and really thought I would like his books. But there's some weird combination of things that just rubbed the wrong way for me, and I ended up getting irritated while I was trying to read it, and I don't want to force myself to finish a book if it's not doing anything for me.
Dead to me is the first of a series, there are at least two more books released, and more on the way. Anton Strouts narrative style is fine, the plot was good, and there were some funny situations in the parts of the book that I read. I just could not stay interested, in fact I was getting cranky - so I put it aside. There are a lot of people saying good things about his book, so it just proves that there is a whole wide world out there with many, many, varied tastes.