Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The DNF Files: The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

Yep, you saw that right: a new feature! And this time, I'll be rounding up those books I never finished. Today's post features The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf.

Published October 11, 2011 by Candlewick Press
Paperback, 480 pages
Borrowed from library

So... what's it about?
The Watch That Ends the Night is a historical fiction novel told in verse about the events of the Titanic. Multiple characters tell their perspectives (like seriously, MULTIPLE. More than 15. Maybe less than 30.) about what happens leading up to the sink and then also, after the sink.

And just for reference, this is the synopsis provided by Goodreads:

"Arrogance and innocence, hubris and hope--twenty-four haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself, are evoked in a stunning tour de force.
Millionaire John Jacob Astor hopes to bring home his pregnant teen bride with a minimum of media scandal. A beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers the first stirrings of love. And an ancient iceberg glides south, anticipating its fateful encounter. The voices in this remarkable re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret ("the unsinkable Molly") Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker’s reports, and other records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power."

What initially attracted you to it?
Well actually, it was my friend who first saw this book but then passed it up because she wasn't interested it. And naturally, I took a look over and saw that GORGEOUS cover and was like check one. Then I remembered seeing it somewhere before on Goodreads as well as the fact that it was a historical fiction novel which made check two. And it's also about the Ttianic which I have this really weird fascination for so check three. And I just can't ignore it when a book has three things going on for it. One or two, sure but three is like, I have to give this a shot. I HAVE TO. So needless to say, I ended up walking away with it and it was the first book I picked up immediately once I got home.

How far did you read until you decided it was over?
I stopped at exactly the 200 page mark which out of 408 pages, is 49% of the entire book, so just a little under the halfway mark. I think that's a pretty good run? 

Why'd you put it down?
The only thing that made me DNF it was the fact that I just could not get into it. SO BORED. I had the urge to stop reading about 50 pages in but I made myself trudge on until I reached the 200 page mark and I was like, I really don't want to continue so what do I do? And yes that really was a question that popped into mind. I'm just not a DNF person so it rarely occurs to me that I can actually put down a book and not finish it if I don't like it. It took a while for me to catch on but I did and I was like, okay I am so done with this book. Like there was just no interest in me any more for the book. The story wasn't reeling me in and I just didn't care about the characters. There were definitely way too many for me, it all got so muddled. It was bland and so slow and when I realized I still had 200 more pages until the end, I wanted to cry. Basically all the signs that you should put down a book.

Also side note, I did not like how the iceberg was a character. I just found that totally took away from the story and did not work at all.

But on a positive note, was there anything you did like about it?
Yes totally! There were definitely things that I appreciated about this book. Obviously Wolf took a great deal of time to research the Titanic and make sure he had his shit down because all of the characters in this book were actual passengers on the Titanic which was really interesting, I admit. I also thought the way it was written was cool. Definitely unconventional. The Watch That Ends the Night is classified as a verse novel on Goodreads but I would disagree as for the most part, this book is just a regular narrative with short sentences and a lot of sentence breaks. But then also, I'm no poet so who am I to determine that? I also appreciated that Wolf really tried to capture all demographics on the ship so that made for a really complete narrative of what happened.

Final Notes

I've come to the conclusion that this book just was not for me. I definitely did see all the great stuff about this book so I understand why it has such great ratings but this book just was not it for me. I had a difficult time enjoying myself while reading this book. The number of characters was certainly an issue as well as the slow pacing of the novel. But if you're interested in learning more about the Titanic but don't want to read a stuffy non-fiction on it, then maybe consider checking out this book! It will offer you a fresh take on the Titanic from all perspectives and perhaps even help you get a sense of being on the ship as the events occurred yourself! There is also an appendix at the end with character notes and facts about the Titanic and a reference section for you if you're interested in further immersion. 

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