I recommended The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker a few weeks ago, after having read about 150 pages. With unfortunate prescience, I wondered whether it would change at around page 200 and I would unrecommmend it.
I still recommend it, but with warnings. It does change at about page 200. After setting out how the standard archetypes fit into the seven basic plots - dark feminine, light rival, Wise Old Man, all that - it rings all the changes (to use a favorite campanological phrase of mine) for the next 150. Do you wish to find an example of the hero rejecting the light anima in the Quest plot? It's here. It becomes clear that Booker's intent is to ram home the idea that proper use of the archetypes are what make literature satisfying and whole. He does as thorough and as good a job of this as any I have read.
He makes one enormous omission throughout the book. He focuses entirely on the hero or heroine coming to balance and adulthood by accepting or incorporating both the masculine (strength, order) and feminine (empathy, intuitive whole) virtues into their personalities. The other great set of archetypes, which relate to the scapegoat and sacrifice, he neglects almost entirely. He simply doesn't see these as key. As a consequence, he misses the point of some stories entirely, cramming them badly into his anima/animus framing. I noticed, as other Christian readers might, that he misses the point of Biblical stories and Christian works especially. He provides stunning insights into these stories, then walks blindly by great hulking gobs of archetype that don't fit his pattern. He is emphatically but incompletely Jungian in his interpretations and psychology.
But all is not lost. Booker traces an interesting literary starting with the Romantics, showing how western storytelling has gone all wrong in the last 200 years, tracing its decline. If anyone would be sympathetic audience to the idea that our thinking has gone off the rails since 1800, it would be I; but CB doesn't make the case, even to me. He provides an enormous amount of evidence for his case, and displays remarkable insight, but doesn't close the deal. If you want to get an efficient precis of film, opera, novel, and theater plots, this is as good a summary as any. I can now pretend I have read about 100 more books because of Booker.
All this is setup to what may be Booker's secret aim, a hundred-page rant about the deterioration of story in the 20th C, with particular attention to the intentionally transgressive books, films, and plays.
And a glorious fine rant it is, too. His editors apparently gave up the struggle at this point, as Booker includes sputtering incendiary points flying off from the main thread every few paragraphs. Beautiful, some of them, though they flash and die, igniting nothing.
I gave up entirely at page 600. Whatever brilliance he added after this I will just have to do without.