Amanda Reads #1: Slowly Through A Song of Fire and Ice

Hello hello, internet people! Welcome to the first official installment of Amanda Reads (which, in case you missed it in the welcome post, should be pronounced a-la The Amanda Show’s “Amanda please.”) This post is part opinion/review, part personal story, and part slightly embarrassing self-revelatory rambling. Let’s embark, shall we? 

About a year ago, I began what has become a very slow and effortful journey through the Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin. You can tell how slow this journey is by the fact that, a year later, I have only just finished the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. But here’s the thing about this journey–I’m very, very determined to finish it before I watch the incredibly popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, which is of course based on the books.

I can’t exactly say why I’m so stubborn about reading the book first, but that’s just kind of how I roll. When I heard there was going to be a The Fault in Our Stars movie, I read the book. Same with Divergent (both movies, by the way, that I have yet to see).

Perhaps it’s a little of the hipster in me shining through, but I just can’t see a movie or watch a show that I know is based on a book without reading the book first. And Game of Thrones looks like a pretty good show, so here I sit with these massive, near 1,000 page paperbacks lining my shelves, pulling myself through them in order to eventually indulge in some good old HBO action.

But why is this taking me so long? The thing about A Song of Fire and Ice that makes it hard for me to finish is similar to the reason that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix once spent an entire week lying in the living room floor in the exact location where I had chucked it in frustration during a particularly pubescent moment of Harry’s: I have a lot of trouble reading about characters who I either don’t like or who are being completely idiotic at the moment.

For those of you who may not have read the books, A Song of Fire and Ice switches perspectives every chapter, jumping between several interconnected storylines and character arcs. This is a strategy that can be very effective in this sort of massive political entanglement story, but it’s also less than fun when you develop either disdain or apathy toward one or more of the characters you’re forced to spend time with. I’ll tear through a Tyrion or Arya chapter, then wade indifferently through Sansa and her mother’s chapters, and inevitably decide it’s time for a break any time the name Theon tops the page.

I appreciate having all the different perspectives of the story, and it’s a particularly clever trick for concealing information and building in cliffhangers, but frankly, there are just some people in the seven kingdoms who I do not want to spend time with, and that makes me wonder how long it’ll be before I finish the admittedly formidable series and allow myself to sit down before the screen and finally watch some Game of Thrones.

The books are certainly well written (if a bit sex-laced, but that seems almost a staple of the genre), and I’m definitely interested in the plot, which is intricate, deliciously scandalous, and occasionally surprising. But it’s a challenge for me not to read each Theon chapter thinking “come on, man. Die. Just. Die.” Meanwhile, I hold my breath for the characters I love due to those rumors that no one (except perhaps a few special favorites) is safe from death in Martin’s series.

So if you’re still with me out there in internet land, I’m curious–do you ever have trouble getting through a book with an interesting plot because you dislike certain characters? Are you also obsessively opposed to seeing a movie unless you’ve read its book first?

*note on the image (courtesy of Goodreads): Normally, I’m going to post pictures of me with my copies of each book in the series, but in this particular instance due to an incident involving a hot car and direct sunlight for 8 hours, I was too ashamed of the state of my personal A Clash of Kings to reveal it to the world. Apologies, book people, but I promise I’m a one time, strictly accidental book abuser.

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