Not everything we read has a lasting impression on our lives. Some works are just entertainment. But what happens when the novel you are reading is neither entertaining nor intellectually stimulating (or even spiritually satisfying)?
Now that I am entering my eighth decade and have a goodly number of books read to my credit, I can categorically attest that my personal evaluation of a novel is about as good as anyone else’s.
I recently read Dragonfish by Vu Tran. Although touted as a suspenseful mystery novel with interesting characters, what I found was a tedious detective story with little detailed development to make it interesting. The key to the attraction of the novel was that most of the characters were Vietnamese living in the American diaspora (Oakland, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas); most were directly or indirectly involved in some kind of criminal activity.
Tran apparently concluded that interleaving a back-story from Vietnam (and escaping Vietnam) was sufficient to make the characters interesting. But the backstory was tedious and confusing.
Dragonfish most reminded me of the results of a creative writing school. It was disappointing. However, it was Vu Tran’s first novel so we can hope his future works are more promising.