Honestly I found the first 600 pages to be incredibly boring. I loathed how Herbert switched back and forth between point of views so quickly without making any kind of transition. One moment you are privy to Jessica’s thoughts, the next Leto’s, etc, etc. I know this is the grandfather of science fiction and amped up the genre, whatever, but for me it was along the same veins of Lawrence of Arabia. Four + hours of riding through the desert, trying to find your terrible purpose, talking to yourself so that the audience hears your stupid repetitive thoughts, and eventually there’s a fight scene and lots of people die.
I guess it’s a classic, but I’d be hard-pressed to read the next in the series. People talk about it’s importance, it’s contributions to the genre, but why aren’t we talking about how dated and uninteresting it is? This book treats all the characters like they aren’t quite people. Oh, and the movie is terrible! The glowing blue eyes, the horrible animation! Oh, the horrors! I swear to you I only continued to read this book because everyone claimed it’s greatness and professed that as 12-14 year olds it made their reading journey quiver with terrible purpose (sorry for my really bad reference to the book)!
Should we talk about how few female characters there are (two and a half, to be exact)? How Herbert spends most of the time writing characters’ thoughts out loud when really readers should’ve already assumed that’s where the plot was headed? How the children don’t talk or act like children? ANY OF THEM, let alone the ones that are supposed to be mature beyond their years!
No, instead let’s talk about what was good about this book. The world building was pretty great. Every time I thought about the makers, a.k.a. the sand worms, I imagined the worms that are in Star Wars, which kept me entertained. The back stabbing, the quest to turn Dune into a habitable planet, the secrets that were kept and revealed, these are the moments that held my interest and kept me reading more than anything. Herbert sent characters away and drew them back hundreds of pages later to wrap up minute details. With this much attention to detail, I have to give the author credit for a well-built story. It’s not his fault I’m not interested in the topic.
Herbert’s writing is smart. While I’m still upset about the fact that everyone talks like aliens (although maybe that’s because they are all aliens?), his writing is smart. Although at times readers’ are privy to the very blunt and obvious thoughts of the characters, we are also privy to the times when characters solve the most complicated puzzles and keep up with politics faster than I ever could. Herbert’s created countless races of people on countless planets, focused on a few of them and introduced their political struggles, everything from basic needs to complex dilemmas of leadership, and I have to admire his intense attention to detail on those fronts.
However, I keep going back to the fact that despite all of Herbert’s incredible world building and attention to detail, not much held my interest. I forced myself through this book so I could talk about it with my boyfriend and have read one of the most renowned sci-fi books of all time, being a sci-fi fan myself. But I didn’t connect to or enjoy any of the characters, and I certainly was not moved by the plot, nor did I learn anything about myself or humanity through reading this novel. I think what it ultimately comes down to for me, is that perhaps Herbert might have been better suited for video game creation than for trying to write a compelling novel.