I love when I am surprised by a book. I tend to read in my comfort zone, or at least I have been lately. If it doesn't follow my strict parameters, then I usually put it back on the shelf and walk away.
Which is awful.
Since I recognize how limiting that is, I have recently joined a book club. I'm hoping since there are about ten of us, and each one gets to choose a book to read, that I will be forced to broaden my horizons. The first book we are reading is The Shoemaker's Wife. It's Edwardian/pre-WWI and I have high hopes for it, based on the raving of my friend.
Occasionally I will buy or borrow a book that is out of my comfort zone. I borrowed I Am Legand from the library last week, thinking it would do just that, since the movie can only be called post-apocalypse horror. I do not ever read that genre. It's so not my thing. I get nightmares very easily. So I was really surprised when I started reading and the book was mostly in the main character's head, and very existential. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. Oddly, I'm a little disappointed by that. I was bracing for the scary stuff and telling myself I was so, so brave.
Another book that surprised me lately was Marko Kloos's debut novel Terms of Enlistment. I bought it because I like to be supportive of new authors who I am acquainted with (through Twitter) and because the blurb looked interesting. But it's science fiction, sort of futuristic military, and I didn't think I'd really enjoy it.
But I did. I really, really did.
If you want an example of how to build a fiction world for your characters that sucks the reader in, and unloads massive amounts of vital info while making it sound like you guys are just shooting the bull while having a beer, go get this book. The sheer volume of detail was amazing, especially because I have no idea how Mr. Kloos kept it all straight. A notebook? A data base? A vault full of house elves filing his notes?
And it was fascinating. By all rights, I should have been asleep by the the sixth chapter that described his experience in boot camp and the army, but I was glued to my Kindle. Seriously. I read the whole novel in two sittings.
Anyway, the book took me by surprise and made me a big fan. It reminded me of why I devoured Anne MacCaffery's Pern and Rowan/Damia novels. Relatable people in extraordinary situations. Not only am I eager for the next book in what I'm told by Mr. Kloos is to be a trilogy, but I've rediscovered my old love for science fiction and fantasy. I'm thinking about digging out my worn copy of The Rowan and rereading it. Maybe this weekend.
Have you had a book take you by surprise? One that, even though it wasn't in your "comfort zone", you couldn't put it down? Do you have any recommendations for us?