This might be the first review I’ve ever written for a DNF (I got about 20% through). My fantasy book club chose Dune because of the adaptation that was originally coming out later this year (even though it’s actually sci fi).
(I’m going to skip the blurb because at this point, I think everyone knows vaguely what it’s about. If not, I’m sure there are many more lovingly written reviews here that can blurb it for you.)
I have possibly never hated a book so quickly and so fervently. Partly my dislike is unfair: Dune is a product of its time, with a very different writing style, sense of pacing, and tolerance for infodumps. I know it’s a classic and I know it’s unfair to judge it based on what followed in its footsteps. But…
…I just hated so much about it. The white messiah narrative and Paul’s unrealistic perfection. The head-hopping, jumping from one character perspective to another with no warning. The absolutely lazy characterizations of the villains – one you know is evil because he’s enormously fat and the other because he’s effeminate, the only word ever used to describe him! The fact that two of the main characters are named PAUL and JESSICA. Nothing kills the spec fic vibe for me like having my protagonists sharing names of my high school and uni friends.
I do think that there’s a story beneath all the mess: I was interested in some of the intrigue between the ruling families, the worldbuilding on the planet and the emphasis on water. Perhaps weirdly, I am keen to watch the adaptation when it comes out next year. Normally I am frustrated by adaptations when they don’t live up to my expectations, but honestly, Dune 2021 has nowhere to go but up.