It is relatively rare for me to DNF a book, and rarer still that I talk about it. But I am so disappointed that a book I have been wanting to read since I first read the title is now part of that rarity.
Calamity by JD Jordan has such a striking premise, and my imagination was immediately captured by the subtitle, “Being an Account of Calamity Jane and Her Gunslinging Green Man.” Instantly this combines some of my favorite things. Historical Fiction set in the American West, based on a real person, and mixing in Science Fiction – a combination I learned to love from watching Firefly in it’s initial run (the Western and Sci-Fi mix anyway, not the real person part).
I’ll try to keep this a bit brief, since I didn’t read enough of the book to pass judgement on the storyline or the writing, only to comment on why I chose to stop reading it.
This is the swearingest book I’ve cracked open in quite some time (and I don’t even care that swearingest is not a real word – it captures the meaning). Now, I know that Martha Jane Canary lived in a rough time and had a very rough life, and likely was quite tough and probably had a mouth as salty as the sea. Having her be the narrator, then, it stands to reason that her language wouldn’t exactly be suited for Sunday School. Perhaps in this aspect then, telling the story in third person might have alleviated the overabundance of cussing which I’ve heard said is a laziness for writers and comedians. Not that I found any humor in this book (I didn’t get much past the attempted rape that opens the book, and thankfully none of that was humorously written), and not that the writing isn’t fine. I have a feeling the author sustains the narrator’s voice through the story, and that if I was able and willing to continue reading that I would find much to redeem it. But I just can’t make myself. I don’t want to. Opening this book to a few random pages, I couldn’t read a paragraph without wanting to wash Calamity’s mouth out with soap. Oh, help me, am I becoming my mother?! (Not the sweet great-grandmother that she is now, but back when I was growing up and there was soap that met my mouth…)
Not that I can’t handle a bit of swearing in a book. If it is minor. But there are some words I find downright offensive and when used repeatedly I just can’t look past it. And worse, in those random pages I turned to I found some content that I just don’t want in my head. Including sexual content involving a minor will make me stop reading a book every time.
I fear I’m beginning to rant, but I waited so long and wanted so much, no – expected so highly that I would enjoy this book. As I prepare to return it to the library, I am glad that I didn’t give in to the desire to buy a copy and have it on my shelf so that I could read it at any time. Money saved, time saved, I just wish I had read a review somewhere that would have saved me this disappointment (such a review probably exists, I just didn’t read it).
I’m sure there will be an audience for this book, and I’m sure those readers will find some enjoyment in it. It is just a shame that past the title, subtitle, and description (along with the striking cover art), there was nothing in it for me. I wasn’t expecting Doris Day, but I sure wasn’t expecting this. Bummer.
Calamity by JD Jordan | Heliosphere Books, 2016 | paperback, 299 pages
This non-review refers to a paperback borrowed from my local library.