I've been doing the 50 Book Challenge every year since it started in 2003. At 23 books read for this year to date, I'm pretty far behind. Why? I read all four books in the Songs of Fire and Ice since January. Now I'm not sure I ought to have bothered. The rest of this post contains minor book spoilers.
I kept on, because...I thought the story would go somewhere. But somehow, four books and thousands of pages later, it hasn't. How can that possibly be?! I should have been wary, what with having heard whispers of what a tremendous asshole a lot of readers consider him (besides Neil Gainman, but I hate half of his books anyway, so why listen to him?) but I was lured in by the rumors that they're making A Game Of Thrones a TV show. So, I read on and on, with the vaguely disquieting sense that the various plots, subplots and sub-subplots should build to something...and I'm apparently an idiot, because even after four whole books, the supposed central theme ("Winter is coming" or maybe "we must band together to defend ourselves against the Others") is still as nebulous and misty as it was in book one. And people have been waiting four years for this to continue?!
I guess I could forgive the guy a severe case of writer's block, though he did say that he'd just be splitting a big book into two (this takes 5 years to do? The other book is supposed to have already been written) but his sins are worse just in the writing front. What's with his need to write the same details over and over and over again? Arya's prayer has been repeated - in full - no less than 47 times. It feel like he's under the impression that we've all suffered head trama so he's doing us a favor repeating things dozens of times, or else is convinced that he's being paid by the word. And those words are far too often in the passive voice. Didn't he take at least one writing class in college? Passive is bad, not something to stride for so your work sounds old-timey. Not to mention that despite the books being unreasonably bloated, there are so many things that are never touched on despite it being natural for readers to what to know about them. For example: when/how did Jon end up in Winterfell? Catelyn is supposed to despise him, so who raised him until he was old enough to ignore?
Other readers might gnash their teeth and wail in despair when they think of Martin's odds of living long enough to finish the other three books, but not me. I don't care if he ever writes another word. He's just not that compelling a writer. If he has better things to do than write, the hell with him.
"Never say that much to me, I guess it feels okay. Sometimes try and draw you out, sometimes but not today" - Faster Tiger, Unrequited