Thursday, March 27, 2014

DNF Review: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Title: Robinson Crusoe
Author: Daniel Defoe
Published: 1719
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: A shipwreck's sole escapee, Robinson Crusoe endures 28 years of solitude on a Caribbean island and manages not only to survive but also to prevail. A warm humanity, evocative details of his struggle to tolerate his lonely existence, and lively accounts of his many exploits make Crusoe the most engaging of narrators. All readers with a taste for adventure will relish this inexpensive edition of one of the most popular and influential novels ever written.

So there is something you should know about me. I am very competitive. I'm the kind of person who always says things like "race you there" or "I bet I can do this better than you." I actually first became obsessed with reading when I was nine. We had a reading challenge in my class and my friend was beating me so I dug in my heels and tried to read more books then her. You should also know that I hate losing and failing. Finally you should know that I am insanely stubborn. Even when I know I am wrong I refuse to admit it and I will continue to do or say something I started. For all these reasons I seriously hate not finishing a book. I have always looked at it as failure. As letting the book defeat me. I would tell myself that even if I don't like the book it might get better and I should keep reading. But Robinson Crusoe changed all that.

So this month my plan was to read books about island adventure and escape. Because I try to read one classic a month that fits the theme I decided to read Robinson Crusoe, arguably the most classic story about a a person stranded on a deserted island. But what I learned from this experience is that you should choose your books wisely. I've always said that I never DNF books because I know what I like and I don't start books that I don't like. I guess that's not always true.

My first problem with Robinson Crusoe is that it was honestly so dull. I say it time and again but I do not like travel montages. I don't like mundane explanations of what a person is doing on a given day and time. That seemed to be all this book was. Life at sea, life on the island, blah, blah, blah. And while it seemed like a logical thing to explain things like building a shelter and farming the land while you are shipwrecked on an island, everything just came off so pointless. It wasn't much of a plot, it was just constant explanations of what he was doing. I guess being trapped on a deserted island is actually pretty boring. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen and nothing came.

My other problem was the unlikely circumstances on the island. Don't get me wrong, I'm used to this concept, especially when it comes to being stranded on a deserted island. There's weird animals or unexplained things happening on the island. I usually think that this adds an interesting dimension to the book but in the case of Robinson Crusoe the unlikely things on the island made it easier to survive not harder. You find grain and livestock on the island? How lucky! How annoying! Meanwhile he sees ships go by and can build all these elaborate things but can't find a way to get off the island. It was like all the problems with Gilligan's Island but without any of the humor. Sadly, I did never find out if and how he gets off the island. The only thing I will enjoy about this book is that mystery.

Finally, I had a problem with the religious aspect of the novel. This sounds terrible, I know but hear me out, I have no problem with religion and the incorporation of religion in literature. What I had a problem with is the fact that Robinson Crusoe kept thanking "Divine Providence" for his good luck. Your good luck on being shipwrecked on an island? What is so lucky about that? He sort of just resigned himself to being stuck on this island and was actually glad of it. I couldn't handle his acceptance of being in a bad situation and not trying to do anything about it.

I stopped reading 70% of the way through the book telling myself that I would start reading it again. After starting two new books I just gave up and came to terms with the fact that I wasn't enjoying this book and I should actually be reading something I am enjoying. So Robinson Crusoe taught me a a valuable lesson, it's okay to DNF a book. And because I learned something then I feel like I didn't fail. It's only failure if you didn't learn from your mistakes, right?

Have you read Robinson Crusoe? What did you think? When do you decide to DNF a book? Leave me your thoughts in the comment section and as always HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. I struggle with wanting to DNF a book. I've yet to do it since I started blogging, but I know it will eventually happen. As much as I want to finish every book I start, there's no point in getting into a reading slump over a boring and unenjoyable book. Side note, after this I'm never reading Robinson Crusoe!

    Kristen @ Pretty Little Pages