What is middle-of-the-book-itis, you ask? Have you ever read a book, been completely blown away by the start of the book, and so intrigued by the general premise that you absolutely have to finish the book and find out how it all ends, except there’s one slight setback – you’re in the middle of the book, and it kind of sucks? If so, you’ve suffered from middle-of-the-book-itis, a symptom of books with brilliant beginnings and endings but middle parts that just kind of drag on.
It’s happened to me a number of times, and it’s really irritating. If the beginning of a book is bad, you tend not to keep reading (well, I don’t, but I’m not as patient as some, I will admit, and I have always thought if a writer can’t be bothered to make the opening of their book good, why should I bother to read the rest of it? But I digress…as usual). If the ending of a book is rubbish, it might be disappointing, but it might just highlight that the rest of the book was good, and you unfortunately raised your expectations as a result. But if the middle of the book is boring, but the beginning was good, you’re left with that uneasy decision to make: force yourself onwards, hoping against hope that the ending will be worth it, or throw in the towel, to be haunted forever more by the limitless possibilities contained within those unread pages.
One such novel which comes to mind that caused me to suffer from this condition was Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. This four hundred page book follows the lives of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, who fall in love in their youth, but who are forced to separate by Fermina’s father. Florentino heads off on his own adventures and waits over fifty years for Fermina’s husband, the doctor Juvenal Urbino, to pass away, upon which he returns and declares his love for Fermina in a seemingly futile attempt to win her back in their old age. This theme of the different kinds of love threads through the whole novel, but while the beginning is fascinating, and the last quarter of the book is a fantastic conclusion, the middle two hundred odd pages of the story seems almost unnecessary and tedious. The saving grace in the case of this book is that the writing is so utterly beautiful, you tend to forgive other flaws in the novel.
Have you ever suffered from middle-of-the-book-itis? What books did you find have this problem?