Struggling with The Mirror Empire

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April 29, 2015 by McDowski

So I’ve been reading this book called The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. I started the book around the beginning of April and am, at the moment, barely 69% through (as measured by my Kindle).

Admittedly, I’ve never been the fastest of readers. While some voracious readers zip through a novel a week, I tend to take longer with my reads. Partly this is because I read, predominantly, Fantasy, which tends towards the larger size. Mostly, though, is because the way I read is by what is called, ‘subvocalisation.’ This is when you “speak” the words as you read, albeit in your head rather than out loud. The result, though, is the same. My reading speed is limited to my talking speed, which, like with most people, isn’t particularly quick.

Yet, I read four books (Meritropolis and The Maze Runner trilogy) and 2 short stories in the month of March. And as we approach the end of April, it looks like I won’t finish this one novel.

But why is that?

Sure, I’ve been a little busy. With my own work in the day and helping out the wife with her office work in the evenings, I haven’t had a ton of reading time recently.

But I didn’t have a ton of time in March, either, and I still finished 4 full books. Admittedly, they weren’t very large books, and were all in the YA genre, which isn’t exactly known for being complex. For me, this comes down to the difference between skilful writing and ‘entertaining’ writing. Hurley is clearly a skilled writer, better than James Dashner. Where Dashner had the advantage, though, was that his plot and story was entertaining. Quick, fast paced and easy to pore through.

The Mirror Empire is well written, and the world-building is quite unique, albeit confusing. But is unique good enough if I’m not being drawn into the story? Can I praise a book for being well-written if I’m not actually having any fun reading what’s been written? At this point, I’m looking forward to finishing this book not because I can’t wait to see what happens next, but more because I just want to get it over with. I want to finish it so I can move on to something else. Entertaining the reader, keeping him engaged and engrossed in your world, convincing him that he has to read the next page when he finishes the current one – all of that should be a large part of being a good writer.

So I guess that’s my problem with the book. Ms. Hurley is clearly a skilled writer, but she isn’t a good writer.


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