Friday, February 20, 2009

Review-- Drood

Title: Drood
Author: Dan Simmons
ISBN: 9780316007023/ Little, Brown and Company, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: D

First Line: My name is Wilkie Collins, and my guess, since I plan to delay the publication of this document for at least a century and a quarter beyond the date of my demise, is that you do not recognize my name.

Mr. Collins' plan went slightly awry in my case. I have eight of his novels in my library. Of course, I also have twenty-five of Dickens', which I do believe wouldn't set well with him at all.

There is a lot to like about this novel. Simmons' research into Victorian England as well as the lives and writings of both Dickens and Collins is exhaustive and insightful. The setting comes to life beneath his pen, particularly the smells. (If your olfactory sense is particularly acute, I would suggest having a handkerchief sprinkled with eau de cologne on stand-by.) The premise of the novel is the last five years of Charles Dickens' life, the basis of his last, unfinished, novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and his friendship with Wilkie Collins. The mysterious figure of Drood is genuinely creepy at the beginning, and I read along, happily immersed in the pitch black streets of Dickens' Great Oven and caught up in the lives of the two authors. After all, this is one of my favorite time periods and two of my favorite writers.

But halfway through this gargantuan book, my pleasure rapidly began to fade, and it was then that I came to the conclusion that Simmons is just not the author for me. You see, I also tried to read his book, The Terror, and stopped shortly after the 150-page mark because I cared nothing for the characters and didn't appreciate the lack of action. Any action. I found the same thing happening in Drood. This book is almost 800 pages long, and it took half that before anything really started happening in the book. The creepiness of Drood faded, and what could have been a crafty, scary read turned into a dragging tale of jealousy and spite. All along, I felt as if the book set me up for an explosive conclusion, but it wasn't. The ending just seemed to waft away in a cloud of snarkiness and opium fumes. After reading almost 800 pages that did contain flashes of brilliance, I was left feeling that somewhere in all that paper and print, there was a tight, compelling 300-page thriller screaming to be turned loose.

I'm sorry, Mr. Simmons. You're just not the author for me. Since you seem to have quite a following, I'm certain I won't be missed.

If you've read and reviewed Drood, please leave a link to your review here in the comments. I'd really like to hear other readers' views of this book!

Check out these other reviews of Drood:
Cafe of Dreams
Books Ahoy!
A Circle of Books
Jenn's Bookshelf
Bermudaonion's Weblog
Linus's Blanket


  1. I think very few people are able to write a good story of 800 pages.
    But I should probably pull myself together and read "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". I am very fond of "Our Mutual Friend" so I don´t know why I have never read Dickens´ last work.

  2. I also did not like 'The Terror'. Was just too difficult to get genuinely interested in the story. I much prefer him as a sci-fi/fantasy writer. I'll be reading his 'Illium' and 'Olympos' this year. I'm hoping they will be good enough to get through.

  3. Isn't the "non-ending" the worst??? There's nothing more frusturating than getting entrenched in a story and not ever REALLY knowing how it ends. Kinda like Sopranos... :)

  4. Sorry this one didn't work for you. I really enjoyed it and will have my review up next week.

  5. I appreciate your review. I've been reading the reviews (and will read Bermuda/Kathy's too), and I've had my doubts that the book was for me. The Terror is definitely not for me! So I think I can sigh a sigh of relief and not get into this at all. Thanks so much.

  6. I am just getting set to write my review. I think I would be able to give a more informed opinion of how well he pulled of Wilkie Collins if I had read any of Collins' books. I was also inspired to read 'Our Mutual Friend', which I have somehow missed reading. I had mixed feelings about Drood, but overall enjoyed it. My review will be up next week.

  7. Thanks for the honest review. I think I'll pass on this one due to the length and the fact that I'm not a big Dickens fan.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  8. I really have an issue with books that are that long. They often strike me as very self indulgent on the authors part.
    Really, does it have to be that long? In my experience, the answer is almost always no, and someone should have come along with the sharp red pen.

  9. I have The Terror sitting on my shelf and I know I've read lots of good reviews about it but the size of it is putting me off. I didn't realize Drood was also going to be quite a tome. I want to read it but I'm not in a hurry.

  10. Iliana--Drood makes The Terror look tiny in comparison!

    Caite--I agree. For the most part, I recall reading very few huge tomes that I didn't want to see end.

    Lisa & Kathy--I'm looking forward to reading your reviews! Maybe it's because I'm contrary, but I love to read views on a book that differ from mine.

    Anna--Not being a Dickens fan would be a big drawback in reading this book. I don't blame you for giving it a miss.

    Rachel--I've never watched "Sopranos", and now I'm not sure I want to! LOL

    Lilly--I learned something new today: I didn't realize that Simmons had written Sci-Fi. Thanks!

    If one of the results of Drood is having more people read Dickens or Collins, that would be wonderful!

  11. I'm not a fan of Dickens and so I didn't request this book. It's too bad that it wasn't your cup of tea. Thanks for writing such an informative review!

  12. I like his book Terror. I bought Drood not long ago but haven't started it yet. I have noticed this writer tends to be a bit long winded.

  13. Kathy--long-winded can be good sometimes. It just wasn't in this case for me. I'll be interested in seeing what you think of Drood once you've read it!

  14. I'm sorry you were disappointed, especially being the Dickens fan that you are. I love Dickens as well. I love this line in your review...

    {If your olfactory sense is particularly acute, I would suggest having a handkerchief sprinkled with eau de cologne on stand-by.If your olfactory sense is particularly acute, I would suggest having a handkerchief sprinkled with eau de cologne on stand-by.}

    Awesome writing! I really want to like Drood, because 800 pages would be a waste if I didn't. I have the book...just waiting for school to end. My students get out on Friday.
    Happy Summer.


  15. Wisteria--Chances are excellent that you will enjoy Drood. I am definitely in the minority!


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