Unseen Academicals – A Book Review
Eversince I was introduced to the Discworld series by a friend who was a huge fan, I’ve been hooked. I still remember the book that my friend gave me – in fact, I still have it. As I was the editor of the university’s English club newsletter, my friend gave me for my birthday a book entitled The Truth which was about a young man who accidentally became a newspaper editor in Ankh-Morpork, the Discworld’s largest city.
The Discworld is a fantasy world created by Sir Terry Pratchett, and is about a world which is flat and disc-shaped carried on the back of four elephants resting on a turtle swimming through the universe. Of course, when my friend first described the world to me, all I did was stare blankly at him and remembered nothing of the description. It was only after I started reading the Discworld books and have become a huge fan that I remember this description very clearly.
And I must say, having read Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has completely spoilt my expectations of writers. I love his wit, his writing style, his parodies, and the way he tackles our own world’s issues through the eyes of the Discworld – issues such as prejudice, racism, and even the way we view history. It is because of Sir Terry Pratchett that I am unable to appreciate many other authors.
It is on my life’s kick-the-bucket list that I must own the entire Discworld collection. As of today, he has written 39 books (and counting) and I don’t even own a quarter of that; however I have read almost all the Discworld books, most of them borrowed.
Anyway, enough about Discworld in general.
Unseen Academicals was published at the end of 2009, and although I saw the book in the stores then, I didn’t buy it because the hard cover copy (which was all the stores had) cost just under RM100 – and as much as I love Terry Pratchett’s books, I didn’t have that much to blow on the book. Then I found the book in Book Xcess in the latter half of 2010 – a brand new hardcover Unseen Academicals for RM19.90!
Of course without a second thought, I bought it.
I normally finish a book quite quickly, especially if it’s a book I really enjoy and am unable to put it down. However, I can’t quite say the same of Unseen Academicals this time, which is quite unusual for me as a Discworld fan.
Unseen Academicals is about … football. The wizards at Unseen University were required to form a team to play football, otherwise they would lose a bequest; and also because this was a “suggestion” by the city’s tyrant. There were also many side-plots involving kitchen maids Glenda and Juliet, a talented football player Trevor Likely and a goblin called Nutt, with love stories thrown between them.
It seemed so promising, but I must say it took me quite a few months just to complete the novel. I have it by my bedside because I normally read at bedtime; but this time, even when it’s conveniently beside my bed, I couldn’t quite make myself read the book. By the time I managed to force myself to complete the book, I kind of forgot what happened at the beginning because I read that section a while back. I know I could choose not to finish the book, but as a rule I always try to compete reading a book that I have started, especially if I am already more than midway through.
So, why can’t I finish the book? For one, I found it – I’m sorry to say – well, boring. I do like reading about Mustrum Ridcully and Ponder Stibbons because the banter between the two of them have always made me laugh out loud. But this time there was a lot of focus on the new characters and their blossoming love, and somehow I didn’t really care much for them. So even when everything turned out well for them in the end, I wasn’t metaphorically jumping up and cheering, like I’d do when things turned out well for Sam Vimes in Night Watch and Thud; or for Tiffany Aching in Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky. I was more of, “Thank god I’ve finished this book.” I’m not sure if I’ll be rereading this book again, because the first experience with this book was already so unpleasant.
I know this “book review” isn’t well-written, but it’s hard to write without giving too much of the plot away. OKOK, the truth is I don’t remember much of the story enough to write a proper review because there was a gap of a few weeks between the time I took to read the last section and the bit before that. By then, I couldn’t remember enough to feel the flow of the story.
Would I recommend this book? No. Even to die-hard Discworld fans. However, if you’re like me, you would still want to keep a copy of the book anyway, just to complete your bucket list.
Recommendation: No (even to die-hard Discworld fans)