OFB of the Fallen’s Neuropath Review

Here’s Larry’s review of the forthcoming R. Scott Bakker novel, Neuropath, along with comments.

I’ve only just started in on the novel, but the comments on Larry’s review are very interesting. I generally find OF Blog of the Fallen to post some pretty interesting stuff, and I respect Larry as a reviewer (obviously), but I have to agree with the comments. It’s not really the reviewer’s job to determine what is “difficult” or not for readers. It not only unintentionally condescends to readers, it may put off some people who would enjoy the book by convincing them they shouldn’t buy it.

I would also suspect it’s at times a self-fulfilling prophecy: that readers who are told a novel is difficult will indeed find it difficult, whereas if they’re primed and prepped for it in a more positive way, they may get over that hump more easily. In any event, as a reader, I just want the facts and an analysis of what works and doesn’t. I’ll decide for myself just how difficult or not-difficult a book is. This pre-judging is a way, sometimes intentional and sometimes not, of confining a novel to a narrow readership. Mostly, I just feel as a reader that it’s potentially corrosive to my relationship with a novel, no matter how independent minded I might be.

Thus far, for the record, I don’t find there to be anything difficult about Neuropath at all.

(Evil Monkey: You don’t find this difficult? Jeff: I find it annoying more than difficult. If I were, for example, trying to contact him for an Amazon feature and his email wasn’t on his site, or at least his publicist’s email, I’d probably just go on to the next writer. Too busy to be bothered to go to a “forum” he might or might not check right away. Evil Monkey: I think you’re difficult, VanderMeer.)


  1. says

    Well, I won’t make a real defense of it, other than to say that I did a poor job there in trying to view things outside my own reaction to it. It is a novel that I’ve had an interesting reactions to over the past two years, but I don’t think it was shown well there. Point taken.

  2. says

    I’m talking about just one aspect of the review, though, Larry, and one thing I always value in your reviews, or in your build-up to doing a review, is that you share your thought process and the ever-evolving opinion you have of a book or set of books. I think that’s a lot more than most reviewers do–share that and/or have an ever-evolving opinion.


  3. says

    Jeff, I understand what you’re saying. I do try to show as much of my inner thought reactions as possible, but sometimes I read the final product (especially when I essentially posted a first draft that was written in 30 minutes) and I cringe when I see certain things that should have been excised and other things that should have been elaborated upon more. I didn’t take your critique of that weak aspect of my commentary personally, I took it professionally instead, meaning it’s food for thought.

  4. JesseFord says

    “There is nothing cathartic about its conclusion to offset its disturbing implications”

    That sounds like R. Scott Bakker. I’m slightly interested in reading this, despite my dislike for thrillers. His fantasy novels leave me feeling the same way, especially the very end of “Warrior Prophet”. Actually, a couple of my favorite novels I’ve read in recent years have left me with a similar feeling; M. John Harrisons “The Course Of The Heart” and Chris Adrian’s “The Children’s Hospital”. Both novels left me with an empty pit my stomach.

  5. says

    Jesse, I haven’t read Adrian’s novel, but MJH’s I have. I would say the two take completely different paths to get to their conclusions, although a large part of that is the story each chooses to tell. Hope you enjoy reading it.

  6. says

    I didn’t even know about this. Amazon has this listed as unavailable. Is this still awaiting an American publisher? I adored The Prince of Nothing books, and can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

  7. says

    I had heard a rumor that Tor might pick it up for a Fall 2008 reprint, but it isn’t in their Fall 2008 catalog, so I’m uncertain. You can use Amazon.ca to get the Canadian edition or Amazon.uk for the UK edition (each has the same ghastly cover).

  8. says

    i had the chance to read it as an ARC and the first thing i thought after finishing it was that bakker is definitely one of those authors i’m going to follow, because, like dan simmons, for example, he’s approaching each genre (fantasy and thriller so far) with a fresh template in his mind. which is exactly what i love about simmons. and, on topic: i didn’t find it difficult, but challenging in a good way. definitely a must read! and tritonic is going to publish it as soon as they finish with the prince of nothing trilogy :)

  9. Caleb Wilson says

    Larry, you were at a signing with Bakker in Nashville in ’04? Was it at Davis-Kidd? If so, funny, because I was there too. I worked there at the time, and was in fact the guy who introduced Bakker at the start.

  10. says

    Yes, it was at Davis-Kidd before it moved to the mall, back in June 2004. Small world! Trying to remember who all was there. All I remember was that I ran my mouth a bit and asked him quite a few questions ;)

  11. says

    I’m reading my review copy now and finding it tough to put down. Looking forward to your thoughts on the book Jeff. Maybe that’ll help to lure Scott out of Canadian hiding.

  12. ozsaffa says

    Awesome book anyone know of more books like this… or any new Bakker books other than fantasy?