The second attempt at a Dune film has been, by pretty much all metrics, a resounding success. While the original 1984 version has something of a cult following (doesn’t everything Kyle MacLachlan makes?), this year’s is a bona fide hit. A cast full of trendy but accurate actor choices, a director used to tackling high concepts, and about as faithful of an adaptation as one could hope for within the constraints of a couple hours has hooked both longtime fans and newcomers to the universe. Should you be watching? Should you be reading? I mean… Maybe?
As soon as I heard a Dune movie was in the works, I went out and bought the book. I’ve long been an avid reader, especially of sci-fi, so the prospect of a new series to dive into was extremely attractive. This was probably not long after filming began, so 2019 sometime? In the couple of years since then, I’ve managed to wade through three of the six original novels. I’ve talked to a lot of people about the books recently and I have a really hard time expressing my thoughts. I’ve enjoyed them, sure, but I don’t know that I’d recommend them to most people, either.
The Dune series is full of dense prose, new terminology that can be difficult to parse, and endlessly complex interwoven relationships and concepts. It makes understanding the plot rewarding, but also takes considerable mental effort and concentration. I’ve had to take several months off from reading at times because too much was happening in my own life to devote that much effort to my reading on top of it. Every time I finish a book, I consider ending there and leaving the series unfinished, but my own completionist tendencies and the knowledge of how much incredible story is left ahead of me keep me picking up the next soon after.
Ultimately, I think one can enjoy the movie perfectly fine without reading the books. Some truly unhinged things occur in later installations of the series, so I sincerely hope the films continue to see commercial success just so I can see the reactions of watchers witnessing these truly absurd plot points. Though I have my doubts that the hype will continue too far past 2-3 movies, even that much is a success. In the meantime, I’ll continue my rate of a book every six months or so and see where the journey takes me. It’s pretty exciting to have so many on the same journey!