Dune is a big deal in the world of Science Fiction. With all the love over Star Trek and Star Wars, you still can't call yourself a sci-fi fan without knowing about, Dune, Arrakis, and Paul Atreides. This book has outdone even the masterworks of Isaac Asimov and H.G. Wells, not only because of it's continuing massive sales, but in the very fact that it defined the science fiction genre as we know it today, paving the way for other greats. Having now read this book myself, I can tell you that it fully deserves the massive attention it continues to receive.
But I didn't like it.
I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, because as a writer, I felt I couldn't do anything less with a book that has become a classic of a genre I love. Even so, I was almost relieved when I finished it. I can understand why this book was such a big deal when it came out - it's masterfully crafted, vivid, and entirely unique, thus well deserving in its place among the greats. But there's one thing about it that killed it for me. Despite being set on a planet, I found Arrakis to be a very cold place. Herbert had a very distant and passive sort of tone throughout the whole novel, making it difficult to invest in any part of it. Some of this may have been intentional because the main characters are very analytical people, but even the sections that were written about the more passionate characters were written in a passive voice. The book felt passionless, even in sections describing the religious fervor surrounding Paul. It was like reading a textbook that wanted to be exciting. Being a very passionate person myself, I couldn't connect with characters like this and I felt insecure being in their company for as long as I was.
There were good things about the book. The world was an interesting place and the characters themselves were actually well rounded and intricate people, even if they were a little cold. But an author's style of writing makes or breaks a book for me, and this one broke it. It was very sad.
The book was very good and I can appreciate the skill of Frank Herbert as a creator, but that's as far as it goes. The passivity and distance with which it was handled made it near impossible to enjoy through one full book. Maybe the rest of the series is better, maybe a second read through would change my mind, but as for now, I read books because I'm looking for sanctuary and I didn't find that in Dune.
Still, I tried. Now I know. It was worth that much.