About a month ago, I finished reading a book entitled, The Devil in Silver, written by Victor LaValle. It was one of my Christmas presents from my amazing boyfriend, who picked it out from a list of top books of 2012 (in the top five), despite not being sure if I would love it or not. The story sounded interesting enough, but I wasn’t completely sure either. Lucky for me, I had just finished a book a few weeks before and was scant of anything that sounded interesting (don’t get me wrong, I have quite a few books at home that remain to be read, but sometimes you need something that is completely different and therefore refreshing). I have been on one of those hard-to-get-into-anything book moods for a while now (don’t you hate those?) and picked it up right almost right away. I was hooked immediately.
The novel takes place inside a fictional mental hospital in Queens, NY, where the main character, Pepper, is taken by police after he is arrested for something that he can’t even remember. At first he is hesitant and throughout much of the book tries to convince everyone that he doesn’t belong there (but does he?), then he comes in contact with a deformed, monsterish patient one night. In time, he befriends a few patients in hopes to vanquish this monster…”the devil.”
One thing about this book I would like to say. Many times I have argued that I prefer reading books that are exceptionally written with a less interesting story; I have actually read books where I didn’t care about the characters at all, but they were just so beautifully written that I couldn’t help myself…I had to keep reading to the end. I’ve had this argument with my boyfriend (and others), and although they agree that it is nice to have an exceptionally well written piece, they would sacrifice the writing for a more interesting story. Case and point, The Game of Thrones. I started reading it because I had made my boyfriend read Tana French’s In the Woods (mine was the case of an exceptionally written novel and a great story, as are all Tana French novels), but only got through the first three hundred pages. I found the writing to be good (not great), and the story, although interesting, way too clunky. Similarly, in The Devil in Silver, LaValle’s story is interesting enough to grab my attention, but I feel that his writing is a bit mediocre, and it seemed more like he was telling the story in his own speaking voice rather than in his writing voice. That didn’t stop me from liking the book, just made me think about how I could make it better.
The moral of the story: I guess I can read and like books that are not exceptionally written…but I prefer the ones that are.