Book Review: Dune

Dune
By Frank Herbert

My Edition:
Paperback, 883 pages
2010, Ace
ISBN: 9780441172719

Duke Leto Atreides moves his son and her mother to the desert planet of Arrakis in order to establish their new rule. But treachery lurks within the castle walls and Paul and his mother must learn to live in the inhospitable desert in order to escape their pursuers. But can they adjust to life where every drop of water is precious and sandworms lurk under every dune?

Guys, I don’t know how to blurb this book….because I didn’t enjoy it. –Gasp!- I know, it’s a sci-fi classic, but man, it just wasn’t for me.

TLDR: I read this as part of a group read on Instagram (hosted by the awesome Jacob) and if it weren’t for the group (and my friend Mel reading along also) I would have DNF’d this.

Ok, if you want a bit more detail, I’ll try to make this coherent.

I suppose I’ll start with how hard it was for me to actually read this book, given the extensive vocabulary and titles Herbert created. I do give him props for that, but I could never be completely immersed in the world because I couldn’t mentally pronounce. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to put in the effort of really learning the words, so that’s on me. But I began translating Herbert’s nonsense into my own nonsense and it was all distracting and meaningless. (Fun game for those who know the book – see if you can tell what my nonsense words should actually be: Sauerkraut, Muddy, The Kiwi, Shoutout Vapes, Salsa Seconds, The BeeGees.)

Once I began to realize how lost I was – probably like page twelve – I was tempted to read the various appendixes (which make up like a 5th of the book!) to try to get more info about the world building, politics and characters, but was warned that they can contain some spoilers. Well, I floundered through about a third of the book and decided to at least read the character bios. Turns out my fellow readers were right, they do contain spoilers! I already wasn’t feeling the book at this point though, so I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t really shocked either.

I did attempt to decipher some of the vocabulary in terms of meaning, but soon grew tired of flipping back to the glossary thirty times per chapter. So if I couldn’t understand the meaning of a word based on context clues, which happened often, I just ignored it. Trust me, I won’t deny how little effort I put into reading this book. Sometimes you just know from the start when a book isn’t for you and that was the case here. I probably should have just stopped reading, but I soldiered on in hopes something would click for me.

I didn’t connect with Paul, or his mother Jessica, and since most of the story revolves around them, I was incredibly disinterested in what was happening (if you couldn’t tell that already). I found Jessica to be somewhat cold and bland and Paul to be arrogant. I didn’t understand his powers either, so it began to feel like he could do whatever the plot needed him to do in order for everything to go his way. The side characters were ok, but they didn’t leave much of an impression on me.

I wonder if I should have tried to watch the movie first to get a better idea of what I was going into. Now I have no desire to watch the movie, even if it were available for free on any of the streaming services we use.

Also, I wish there had been way more scenes involving sandworms.

I can still appreciate the work that went into creating such a sci-fi epic and I can understand why people love it. While I don’t understand much of what Herbert was putting before me, I do realize how much effort it must have taken to create such a vast universe, including all its politics, religion, science and technology. If you’re looking for a vintage sci-fi that has the feel of an epic fantasy, you may really enjoy this, but it simply wasn’t for me.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Dune

  1. Did you read this for Vintage SciFi month? A few of us who read it for that had a similar reaction. Didn’t really like it but it’s a classic so felt we were supposed to.

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