I won’t lie to you, I found Dune to be a little dry, pun intended. Pro-tip number one, don’t read this book in a heatwave, I’ve never been more grateful for tap water in my life. The sheer importance of water in the book has a surprising impact, I’ve had so much water that my skin looks amazing now, seriously, this book has health benefits guys! But sadly it didn’t do more than that for me. I was actually quite disappointed in this book, despite the hype, and I stopped half way through to read two other books I’m not even ashamed!
Though I can recognise the cultural significance of this novel (the worldbuilding was really quite incredible, though I believe it really should have been editing down a whole bunch) I found the characterisation lacking. Those of you who know me know I love a character driven story, but this story was slow and was driven by nothing. I suppose in that way it was like a gruelling exhausting walk on the surface of a desert planet. The main character, Paul, was the prophesied Messiah of the Freman people, and basically read like a SF Jesus. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with much scripture but Messiah’s by definition are kind of two dimensional, and though this worked within the plot, it did the reading experience no favours. Most of the characters didn’t develop at all, nor did their relationships, once Paul sees the future he shares a vision of love with a woman he just met and BOOM two pages later they have a son. Not to mention the fact that this son is never seen in the text, and the one child that is has been magically imbued with an adult mind. Basically, though Herbert may have a great imagination, I don’t feel he executed it well at all.
As well as character development I felt that the plot was sadly quite lacking. Though the story itself was interesting, and there were even a few sections where I couldn’t put it down, a majority of the time it felt like whole chapters could be cut out. The book was split into three parts, and really it should have been one. The beginning seemed to stay a beginning for far too long, dragging out the various assassinations, political backstory, and not much else for hundreds and hundreds of pages. By time the plot got to the classic final epic battle, about fifty pages were left and it all felt rushed in a way that didn’t do the former build up justice.
I feel like I am being a bit harsh with this review, I really went into this expecting more. Countless people have told me that I’d love this book and that it would change my life. And in a way I suppose I did like it, despite the problems I pointed out with it, I didn’t put it down and I usually just drop a book if I’m not feeling it. Something sort of compelled me to keep reading, though I needed plenty of breaks to get through it. Basically, I thought it was alright, but were it given a harsher edit I think it would have blown my mind the way it did to everyone who recommended it. Maybe I’m just not patient enough, but I have a copy of Dune Messiah (Messiah is the buzzword of this series) and it looks significantly shorter, so I might give it a go!