#5Books: The Darth Vader Effect or why sometimes it’s best not to tell readers too much

#5Books book recs for the week ending 24 April 2017

So. Vader. You know the Father of the Year that is Darth Vader?

Yeah, I’m talking Star Wars in relation to books.

Bear with me.

When I first watched the original Star Wars movies, Vader was mesmerising. James Earl Jones’ booming voice, the costume and the sheer menace in everything he did and said. The character made me afraid for the rebels, for Luke and Leia, and Han and every damn time I watched those originals I was always afraid.

And then of course, the prequals came. And for brevity and coherency within this post, I’m just going to call them: How Vader Became Vader.

I watched the first one, and part of the second and completely lost interest in everything to do with Star Wars and Vader as a result. The new Star Wars movies are awesome, of course, but I’m not lining up to watch them and if I miss them and catch them months later when everyone else has watched them a couple of times over, I’m cool. I care even less that Vader was in one of them (and more to come maybe?) because hey, he’s a guy with a romantic backstory now and not the iconic villain I used to know. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a murderous asshole, but now he’s a wronged murderous asshole, with a heart. Or something.

My point is, Vader should have been left a murderous asshole (for me anyway). His backstory with Padme was way too much information and actually robbed a lot of the shine of the character for me.

And I find that happens in books too. Sometimes, I just really don’t need to know.

Take the review coming up this Wednesday: The Dry. To sum up in one word: Brilliant.

Seriously. All the stars.

It’s about a murder in a small town in regional Australia. When the murderer is unmasked, there’s a flashback to the day of the murder, to what was going through the murderer’s mind as they explained their choices. BUT.

Up until that point, the book doesn’t give the murderer a POV. And I don’t think they needed one – the power of the act, of the way the book built up the murders, the impact on everyone in the story was enough such that I didn’t feel I needed to know the detailed motivations of how the act happened in a flashback. An act like that doesn’t need a sudden context, it can simply stand as an act of a murderous asshole.

Then I finished another book recently that had flashbacks – chapters of them to the events leading up to a kidnapping and I wanted to cry – really did not need them.

Too much detail about the murderous asshole didn’t take the shine off The Dry because it was THAT GOOD. But it did get me thinking about Vader, about when it’s okay not to tell a reader everything. Have you ever felt that way about a book? Thinking that you got too much information? Or is there never enough information for you as a reader?

But. On to better things: like Star Trek. Because there was a meme going about last week about the top 10 things that would make you pick up a book and I’ve got two already: Paris (for another review) and Star Trek.

Every damn time, I will stop and look even if I glimpse the words “Star Trek”

Meg and Linus

She’s a lesbian, he’s gay and they’re the kind of BFFs that have Star Trek boxsets. I’m sold. Even more so when I read to see that Meg tries to set up Linus up with Danny to distract herself from her own breakup with Sophia, who might have something else going on as she might still be interested in Meg, while Linus has no idea if  Danny is interested in guys. Look. It’s cute and we all need cute in a read. Nods.

This second recommendation is sheer curiosity for the title (first):

The Night She Won Miss America

And then I  read the rest of the blurb, and hello, based on a true story! Betty Jane wins Miss America, but that win threatens her newfound relationship with her pageant-approved escort, Griffin who is a little reckless and dark than Betty or the pageant realised. It’s the idea of Betty, of who she is while unintentionally winning this pageant that interests me more, I have to admit.

This one is about family, pure and simple

The Last Days of Café Leila

Set in Tehran, the book begins with Noor coming home to her family and their café after 30 years. Her father is still there, the kind of man everyone knows and loves I think. Lily, Noor’s daughter is a typical teen while Noor tries to reconnect with her. And of course, Lily gets caught up in things she shouldn’t in Tehran. And it has flashbacks! Gosh, please make them make sense for the novel, please!

Alright who remembers this movie:

Because it’s based on a book series I really ought to have started reading earlier bc this is book 18:

Fallout

Which has the only preface to the actual blurb that is impressive and worth noting methinks. I mean, Stieg Larsson?? But anyway, I have no idea what’s going on in this series, but in this one, VI is off to Kansas to find a film student and former Hollywood star. Small town USA, racial tensions and secrets that seem to stretch past into decades. Yeah, who am I kidding – book 18 or not, I’m in. Nods.

And last, here’s the $1,000,000 question. Or the million rupee question as the case may be: what would you do if you received money, enough to change your lives completely?

The Windfall

Set in East Delhi, this is the story of Mr and Mrs Jha, whose lives are changed completely when they come into some money. Mr Jha moves his wife and himself to the richer part of Delhi, and there he tries to change himself and his family and results in a ton of stuff that’s going to make you think about social status, pride and what it means to share a home. Think Crazy Rich Asians in India.

So what are you looking out for? And what books could have done with a little less information? 

14 Comments

  • I have seen Meg & Linus around. Sounds super cute!! The title The Night She Won Miss America totally got me too!!

  • I do understand what you mean when you speak of the Vader effect actually. Although often I find I’m desperate to know more to find out more about motivation etc. I guess it really depends on an author and the story itself – can they/it handle it and is it even worth knowing? Sometimes we can only really appreciate a villain when they are completely atrocious and they become so much has less when they actually have a heart… But with anti-heroes as a lead I also want to know that they have a good back story and a motivation and something to really make me question my morals when I’m cheering for them! 😂

    I guess what I’m saying is that bad guys should be bad, unless they are really the good guys in disguise.

    • Verushka says:

      That’s exactly right — sometimes the bad guys just need to be bad! Not everyone needs a heart of gold!

  • hummmmm… I’ll be odd pebble in the sack… I LOVED all that Vader’s backstory LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! I don’t know how many times I watched that movie. 🙂 I kinda of didn’t care much about Vader [because seriously. the mask??? Not Hollywood best moment if you ask me :-)] BUT after you know him as a boy and then as a young man in love… I could forgive the mask incident
    ;-P

  • I do think that less is more at times. Sometimes we get too many details and it changes our opinions of a character. I love love love the original Star Wars movies and I can’t even get through the new ones. I do think that Meg & Linus sounds like a great book.

  • I’m a Star Wars junkie, but I do agree that less is more when it comes to a character like Vader. I remember how I felt about him when I first saw him onscreen in the original trilogy and all of those feelings are gone now when I rewatch it because of all of the backstory that we now have of him from a little boy on up to how he ended up like he did.

    On to your book recs though. Meg & Linus sounds so cute. Pretty sure I’m going to be checking that one out at some point 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      That’s it! You’ve described exactly how I feel about him now — that genuine fear? It’s not there at all.

  • I love your Vader Theory and think you have a point. We just watched Star Wars Rogue and while I enjoy the movies, I don’t consider myself a real fan. To be honest, at times I’m kind of lost. I can’t even begin to understand how all the movies, sequels and prequels tie together. And what’ even scarier is I don’t care. I pretty much take each one for what it is. Have you read “Red Shirts” by John Scalzi? I’ve always wanted to and I know it’s kind of a take on Star Trek. I’ve heard pretty good things about The Dry and want to pick it up.

    • Verushka says:

      Thank you! AND NO, I have not! I shall have to check out the John Scalzi book for sure! The Dry was AMAZING. I hope you get it soon!

  • Kelly says:

    I must admit, I’ve never felt compelled to watch Star Wars. My husband is a massive nerd and everytime he’s gotten me to watch it, I’ve fallen asleep. Meg and Linus sounds absolutely adorable! Swoon Reads are bringing out fabulous YA titles lately, Queens of Geek was magnificent as well.

    • Verushka says:

      LOL! It’s alright, I don’t reckon you’ve missed much! I’ve been hearing SUCH AMAZING things about Queen of Geeks!

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