Not A Quitter

I am not a quitter. Last January, The Passage premiered on FOX. Starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Saniyya Sidney, the show told the story of Amy, the girl from nowhere, who was chosen as a test subject for a medical/military experiment that would usher in the end of the world. It was based on the best-selling trilogy by Justin Cronin, which was highly praised and recommended by the likes of authors like Stephen King. So with accolades like that, I purchased the first book last February and started reading it. I enjoy reading books that are adapted into film or screen, as it gives me a face to match to the character as I read. Of course, the adaptation is always different than the book, and more often than not, the adaptation is worse, but in this case, the adaptation was decent.

So as I watched the show, I read. Some days more than others, some days not at all. Then first season came to an end; I had barely reached the point in the book where the show ended, but that was fine, and I continued reading, imagining what season two might look like. The show was then canceled. That stunk but I still had the books and could find out how the story ended. So I kept reading. Seasons changed (like literal seasons, winter to spring, spring to summer), and I kept reading, again some days more than others, some days not at all, especially since I had to read for editing and publishing purposes, or to write a promised review. The story kept my interest, and Mr. Cronin’s writing style was engaging, but book just seemed to keep going and going and going. It wasn’t until I was a few months in that I actually glanced at the page count…

881 pages!

That’s something I probably should have looked at when I started reading, but it was too late now. Now, I had a decision to make, as I had other books and manuscripts I needed to read and I wasn’t making any progress with The Passage. The issue was finding time, and getting over the hump that was the middle of the book. There were so many characters to keep track of and the tone and pace of action was different from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, the book was good, it was just a challenge for me at the time. So I had to decide, I could:

  1. Continue reading;
  2. Take a break and come back to it; or
  3. Abandon it altogether.

I am not the type of person to read more than one book at a time (though I will listen to an audiobook that’s different than the book I’m reading) so that was out. I could take a break, but the truth was, if I did that, I would probably never come back to the book. And for me, I cannot fathom abandoning a book once I start it. That meant, I had to finish the it. I kept going and after eleven months, I am happy to report, I finally finished the book, all 881 pages of it. 

See? Not a quitter. But it did make me wonder what the standard had to be for me to quit a book.

I read The Foreigner by Stephen Leather a few years ago, right before the film was released. The premise of the story was interesting enough, but there was a scene in the beginning that made me seriously consider putting the book down: a newspaper reporter walked through an active crime scene, stepping on body parts, taking photos of the deceased/dying and interrupting a police investigation. This would never, ever, ever happen. I know this because my husband works in the media and tells me so every time we watch a movie or show that erroneously shows the media crossing a police tape and the police doing nothing. But I also know this because of common sense. Still, I pushed through and finished the book.

I read Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy when I was in high school. It ranks as number 72 on the 100 greatest novels of all time. Yet I hated every part of the story and told the teacher so every chance I got. I’m sure she got sick and tired of me. But I finished the book anyway. 

I read Blindness by Jose Saramago a few years ago. I saw the trailer for the film and  thought it looked amazing, prompting me to read the book first. I hated the story though, mostly because I felt it had no purpose and no end. I watched the movie hoping they could do something with the story. The actors were great, but it was the same story with no purpose and no end. And in this case, I not only finished the book, but also the movie.

In a conversation with my daughter last week, she mentioned the acronym FOMO – fear of missing out. And this, probably more than anything else, explains the reason behind my actions. I keep reading, keep watching, stay until the credits run, stay until the benediction is given, stay until everyone has left or scramble to do something someone else has invited me to because of some irrational fear that I will miss out on something. But the truth is, it’s all a gamble. Sometimes you’re rewarded with good, sometimes you end up with something less than stellar. The point is, it’s your risk to take. As long as know what you want and where you’re going, chances are the decision you make will be the right one. Am I better person for reading Jude the Obscure, or watching Blindness, or spending almost a year reading one book? I’d like to think so. At least now I’m aware of my habits.

That brings me to where I started: The Passage turned out to be a really good book (even with the middle part); and if you’re into dystopian novels featuring vampires, I would recommend you read it. Just know it has 881 pages. I’m reading The Twelve now, the second book in Justin Cronin’s trilogy. But this time, I know the page count: only 657 – a walk in the park compared to the first book.

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