Underland by Robert Macfarlane ★★

Read 1/16/20 – 1/17/20 (DNF 70%)

I am torn about this novel. I was so excited to get this book. When I first heard about it, I fell in love with its cover and the synopsis I heard. The first discussion I heard about it on Booktube (by abookolive) gave me the impression that it as a discussion of the underworld from the mythological to the geological. I became a little discouraged when I learned this book was much less a of underworld mythologies with more of a geologic focus. Now, I realize it isn’t even that. That description implies it is a book about context of the underworld when it really isn’t. After making it half way, I seriously began doubting if this was worth finishing.

It read like a bunch of loosely related facts, woven together with albeit good writing but no real focus in the content. I finally took a look at the table of contents, and I realized that simple step would have saved me from all the misconceptions I had for this book. I try not to go into a book with too many details if I can help it. That is, more than the basic overview. Sadly, I misinterpreted this book as historical and scientific review, but what it really is is a travel book about a few places across the world that are each loosely related to the underworld/underground. It is true that we get a little science and may be the slightest mythological history. However, to suggest this is a book about such things is a major stretch.

This is a book about a man who beautifully writes about places hes visited, each different from the other but with the similar theme. Sadly, that sort of set up did not work for me. I need a more structured discussion. What’s more, it just doesn’t interest me. I am not interested in reading about a man’s travels around the world at least not with more educational context. It’s disappointing because Macfarlane is a great writer. I never truly get to appreciate this though because I am so disinterested in the material he is writing about.

In the end, I decided not to finish the book. However, I made a conscious effort to get at least 2/3rds through the book because I was so excited about having such a beautiful cover on my shelf. Sure, its superficial, but I already devoted so much time to it. Normally, if I didn’t finish the book I wouldn’t keep it, but I am an adult and can keep a book if the cover brings me joy. I can picture it already, all the times I show people, “This is such a beautiful book! Unfortunately, I really disliked it.” 2/5 stars.

Rating Break Down
Writing Style (7%): 10/10
Content (15%): 5/10
Structure (15%): 4/10
Summary (1%): 4/10
Engagement (5%): 5/10
Enjoyment (25%): 2/10
Comprehension (20%): 5/10
Pacing (2%): 4/10
Desire to Reread (5%): 0/10
Special (5%): 0/10
Final Rating: 1.96/5
Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance.

3 Replies to “Underland by Robert Macfarlane ★★”

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