To Fans of The Dark Is Rising: Help!

This is a plea to those who recommended or enjoyed the The Dark Is Rising sequence. Right now, I’m very near to tapping out.

I’m trying. I get that these were written for a younger audience. Younger, even, than I realized when I picked them up. I wasn’t expecting an eleven year old protagonist, which admittedly threw me off a bit. It’s a little out of my comfort zone for a book I didn’t first read closer to its target age. I could probably re-read The Mouse and the Motorcycle, because I know what it felt like to read it when I was a kid. I’m finding it difficult to project into something new, though.  That might be part of the problem.

But a lot of you really enjoy these books, and I’d like to know why. I’m about 40 pages from the end of the second book, The Dark is Rising. As it stands, I’m not sure if I’ll have the will to pick up Greenwitch. I don’t want to crap out. I want to see what those who recommended it are seeing, even if it turns out I don’t like them the way they do. I don’t want to just return the last three books to the library unless I’m sure I’m not going to enjoy this.

Right now, the series is feeling like a well written but dry object hunt. I’m not feeling any of the characters as people, just as relic hunters and puzzle solvers.  With a few exceptions (Simon being chased in Over Sea, Under Stone and the building cold in The Dark is Rising), the stakes are almost nonexistent. It’s just a sequence of problems solved immediately by external forces. I gave Over Sea, Under Stone the same pass I did the first Narnia book (The Magician’s Nephew, a book Over Sea, Under Stone unfortunately reminded me of), but I can’t take another 3 books of slogging.

So here’s my plea: Tell me, in the comments or on Twitter, what it is you love about the The Dark Is Rising sequence. Am I missing something? Are the problems I’m feeling just part of the early series? Does this get deeper, more emotionally involving or at least more complex than a series of puzzles leading to a series of powerful objects? If this is the series and it’s just not hitting me, maybe it’s time to call it quits. But if I’ve missed something, or if there are deeper waters to be found, I’m happy to stick around. I just need, at this point, a lifeline. I need to see this through your eyes before my eyes crust over and refuse to read another word.

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7 Responses to To Fans of The Dark Is Rising: Help!

  1. Mel says:

    1. The Magician’s Nephew is not the first Narnia book. It’s like, the 6th. This whole ‘chronological’ ordering of Narnia is a travesty of poop.

    2. I’ll try to answer you but I can’t right now, because work and all that. but I will! remind me later tonight.

  2. Eric says:

    I read it first, and I didn’t want to sidetrack to qualify the placement of a terrible and boring book seemed like a waste. But you’re correct.

  3. samatwitch says:

    I will be interested in reading comments as well, since the only one of the series I have read is “The Grey King” in my Children’s Literature class a few years ago. I enjoyed it enough to get a couple of the other books in the series but haven’t read them yet.

    (Also, I thought I had subscribed to your blog, but apparently I hadn’t. Have now.)

  4. cabri says:

    I don’t remember. :P

    (I vaguely remember it picking up at one point giving me a push through to the end, but that’s it.)

  5. Eric says:

    And I’ve quit. That didn’t take long. I couldn’t finish The Dark Is Rising, or at least stopped caring to the point where reading felt like homework. I may give Greenwitch a try in the future, but for now, any further reading is going to be Me In A Bad Mood, which is good for no one.

    Thanks, all!

  6. samatwitch says:

    I used to push through books because I thought I should finish what I had started (my mother’s voice is always in my head!) but now I figure why waste that time with something I’m not enjoying. If I put a book down and don’t pick it up again for several days – especially if I read other things in the meantime – then I’m probably not going to enjoy finishing it.

    Unlike just about everyone else in the world – or at least my part of it – I did not enjoy “The Hunger Games”. Once they hit the actual ‘games’, I put it down for several days – which, since it was a library book, was not good – and then when I picked it up, I skimmed (very cursorily) through most of the book and read the last chapter. It did not inspire me to pick up the second book, which I also had from the library, but I did skim the first chapter or two. It wasn’t my kind of book and I had many others that were awaiting me, so I returned them.

  7. Calafan says:

    I read the Cooper books in high school and re-read them every few years. I found Dark/Rising to be written in a clear, bell-like prose that cut through the sometimes woozy atmosphere. The characters are more complicated than most teen novels. I traveled to Wales just to visit the locations and experience the feeling of enchantment. There are some images from the book that never leave you, and turn up in dreams years later. “Silver in the Tree” is a moving conclusion that won several awards.

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