Something’s been irking me lately when I’ve been trying to write book reviews. It was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Yes, characters were fine, the plot was good and pacey. But there was something missing.
It wasn’t until I read Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb recently that the penny dropped. Coming in at a hefty 688 pages, this wasn’t a quick book. But it had the space and time to really get into the world. That was the thing I was missing. How can I explain the difference?
Well, it’s like comparing a theme park ride where you get to see stuff but only following the path behind the ropes, to being let loose in a castle to explore for yourself. Some of the shorter, faster books I’ve been reading feel like as a reader, you’re being hurried along a set path, without the time to go off on side jaunts or stop to examine finer details.
Is this a new phenomenon? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just me changing and turning into a grumpy old reader! Maybe it’s a sign of the doom that social media critics keep pronouncing – that now we’re used to dealing with multiple communications at the same time, albeit in smaller chunks, there’s less call for long, complex storytelling.
What do you think? Are longer, more detailed books better? Or are they just the sign of an author who finds it hard to get to the point? Do you prefer slow or fast-paced stories?