I didn’t actually finish Immortal Writers. I decided to lay it aside at about 53%. Normally, that would mean that I just post a few lines on GoodReads explaining why I wasn’t enjoying it, but I actually had quite a lot to say about that first half of the book and why I didn’t enjoy it, so I thought it was worth writing my very first proper DNF review.
Please bear in mind that this book has received lots of good reviews and that some of my comments are a matter of preference and may not bother everyone.
(For background, the premise of this book is that writers of a certain degree of talent become immortal through the magic of their words, and their worlds and characters can also bleed over into reality)
1a) I felt that some of the Immortal Writers featured should not have been. It’s one thing to include figures like Jane Austen and Shakespeare in your fantasy novel. Including Anne McCaffery, who only died in 2011, and even Douglas Adams and Tolkien, felt disrespectful. Not enough time has passed to start creating fictional versions of these people. A throwaway line could have been okay, but some of them had dialogue and participated on the periphery of the story.
1b) There was also this thing where each author seemed to think that their own genre was the only one worthy of any publication. There were some lines such as “Jane Austen thought Liz’s books should have more romance, Douglas Adams told her there should be more satire”. H. G. Wells was dismissive of fantasy because it doesn’t have scope for cutting-edge technology. I’m fairly certain Jane Austen, H. G. Wells and Douglas Adams would be aware that not everything ever is included in every book ever, and that genre divides exist.
1c) They were all pretty boring, too! We got no real insight into any of these authors. I got that Shakespeare was basically running the joint, but he just struck me as a fairly generic Professor X/Dumbledore/[insert other mentor/owns the place where everyone hangs out when they’re not battling anyone character] type. Jane Austen is a gooey stereotype of a romance reader/writer, rather than a sharp-witted satirist. That bugged me especially.
2) Liz’s characters, who have crossed over into reality, never seemed to need to adjust. Even though they were from fantasy novels, the only time it is ever questioned is when Liz asks one of her characters how he learned to drive. This is pretty much shrugged off with “I learn things quickly. And a car is really easier than a chariot”. It would have been nice to see them freaking out a bit more, rather than taking literally everything in their stride.
tl;dr – This was a good idea, but in my opinion, sadly failed in the execution.
(Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me a free copy of Immortal Writers in exchange for a review)