June was going so well for me in terms of reading. While not every book had been a kick out of the park, I hadn’t DNF’d a single title, that is until now with The Anomaly by Michael Rutger.
I’m relatively surprised by my decision to put this one aside. It had been described as being a mixture of the X-Files, Indiana Jones, and The Descent. Yet, out of all of those things, it was neither, at least not for the first thirty-five percent (119 pages), which is what I read.
The main character is compared to Indiana Jones and coined as trying to solve the mystery of an explorer who had discovered a shady-arse cavern in the Grand Canyon in the early 1900s, sort of like an archaeologist. What the synopsis conveniently leaves out is that he’s a trashy YouTube type who steals facts and information from other people as the basis for these “adventurous” trips as way to exploit them in an attempt go garner fame. If this was mentioned anywhere in the fucking snippets that I came across—multiple ones from various places including the inside dust cover—I would never have picked this up (probably why it was carefully avoided).
Indiana Jones was a badarse archaeologist that had respect (for the most part) for whatever he was in pursuit of. He wasn’t a racist, entitled, douchebag with some inferiority complex. Nolan, who happens to be the main character whom we get to experience via a painful first-person perspective, is a complete arsehole. His entire fucking crew, actually, is extremely insufferable. The way they talk about people of colour, such as Indigenous people (referring to them as “red skins,” for example), was infuriating. They’re all searching for shock value and something that will finally get them a bit of recognition as a saving grace for their other failed ventures. There is absolutely nothing about this book that said to me, “Yes, this is definitely comparable to Indiana Jones and X-Files.” Nothing.
I’m used to books having unlikable characters. Usually they have a reason for existing and tend to balance out with other cast members that are far more pleasant. Yet, The Anomaly didn’t have that benefit to it. There was maybe one character out of the plethora that I found to be a decent person. One. Everyone else was an encapsulation of the worse personalities out there and I couldn’t stand it any longer. Truthfully, the only reason I made it to nearly 120 pages was because I was waiting for these jerks to die in brutally glorious fashions. Even that satisfaction wasn’t enough to keep me going.
Considering that I have a readathon coming up in July, I didn’t want to subject myself to a book that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy for the vast majority of my reading experience and threaten my happy biblio vibes with potentially dangerous reading ruts; so I DNF’d it. It’s not fucking worth it. If this book hadn’t been advertised to be something that it clearly fucking was not, and if it were described as following a bunch of YouTube dude-bros trying to get their next big chance at going viral, I may have (at the very least) had more respect for it and not been as fantastically disappointed a I am right now. I also wouldn’t have wasted one of my Book of the Month renewals on it either.
As I mentioned above, I only read thirty-five percent of the book, and maybe things change and slowly begin to morph into its comparative titles, but that deception doesn’t lay out a good experience for the reader if it takes so damn long for it to get to that point. Most readers won’t stick around for as long as I did and if it hasn’t gotten to its supposed irresistible traits within the first thirty to forty percent, even a teeny tiny bit, the rest of it probably just isn’t worth the effort and investment.