I have just finished reading James Treadwell’s Advent. I so much wanted to like this book; it has all the ingredients I usually enjoy and that lovely tagline ‘Magic is Rising’. Perfect, I thought.

I note that other reviewers have not been able to finish it, though, and I quite see why; it has one of the slowest starts I’ve ever encountered. 100 pages in, I was wondering whether to give up on it, too. But I’m made of sterner stuff, and I rarely give up on a book, so I ploughed on to the end.

I finished with mixed feelings. It’s a great story, but somehow it didn’t come to life for me. I found it hard to sympathise with the protagonists – indeed, I felt more sympathy for the ‘bad’ characters. By the end I’d lost patience with all of them.

Overall I found it an unsatisfying book, but it still got three stars from me for some stunningly good writing.

So, I ask myself, what is it that makes a reader give up on a book, especially one they’ve spent money on? I spent £1 on Advent at a book sale, so it wasn’t a great investment in cash – although at well over 400 pages, it was a considerable investment in time.

Is a slow start a crucial factor? Is it a lack of atmosphere? A lack of action? Unsympathetic characters? Sheer inability to believe the story? Or do readers pick ‘difficult’ books as a form of extreme reading and then give up on them?

How much of a book would you read before giving up in defeat, and why? As a writer, I’d just love to know.

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