Sunday, March 03, 2013

someone send me some good sci-fi.

or paranormal horror.

XP by Alison Bailey.  Points for originality, because I haven't seen this topic before.  However, negative points for the writing.  Throughout the entire work, the author only used the shortest of sentences, with nearly no variation. And that's aside from the other disastrous aspects of the writing style, like the fragments-- fully 50% of the "sentences"-- and the verb tense changes all over the place.  Let's take a paragraph at random here...

He was damn tired a being called skinny.  Out behind Jacob's Well station he danced in the sand, avoided the other's swings.  Could count the ribs on the fella,so pale below the neck and face. Knew he musta looked the same, scrawny,like a loser.  The wranglers egged them on, shoutin' and wagerin'.  He took a swipe in the chin, spat out blood,felt his tooth loosen. A taste of iron in his mouth. (247)
That's one of the longer paragraphs available.  Most are only one or two sentences.  Now imagine 280 odd pages of that, over and over.  It was like sand in my brain.

The Concubine Saga by Lloyd Lofthouse.  I read this a while ago but don't see a review, so I apologize.  I was so glad to be done with it I could see myself not wanting to pick it up again.

What a disaster. After the first two pages, I started keeping track of the proofing errors.  I counted 97 "big" errors: "her's," for example, or having some lists use Oxford commas but not other lists, and typos on the back cover (!).  This does not address that I could have sprinkled literally hundreds of commas throughout the book.

The writing is poor in many other ways.  The narrative is interspersed with information the main character learned many years later.  The book is historical fiction but lacks a period feel: there are few details about daily life or even enough to give a good feel for the setting, and the author included some modern slang.

One of my notes from mid-way through slogging through this is, "I resent that this book is so heavy."  At 550 pages even, in trade paperback, with tiny, tiny print, I hold it against the author.  Poorly formatted, hard on the eyes, heavy, and terrible? Boo!

Water to my Soul: The Story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney by Pamela Bauer Mueller.  I'm automatically leary of any author who feels it necessary to list every writing award she's won on the front of the book.

The historical person and events this book is build around were interesting.  The building could have been better.  First, the book is neatly divided right down the half-way point; the first half takes place over the course of about 3 years, and the second half takes place over about 80 years.  Also, the half-way point is marked by several pages of photos and artwork on that glossy paper.  Most of the pictures would fall squarely in the "spoiler" category.  It would have been better to include them either throughout, as relevant, or at the back.

I don't know how big a deal this is to others, but it certainly annoyed me: the main character is the white daughter of a white plantation owner in South Carolina in the early 1700s. They owned slaves. However, they are never referred to as such. The word "slave" is used fewer than 5 times in the whole book; at every other time, they are "the staff," "the workers," etc.  Along with several other things about the main character,either she or the author is out of touch with reality, I'm not sure which.

A Hard Road to Travel by Patty Tyson Wilson.  First of all, the author should remove herself from the delusion that this is a book.  It is 75 pages; it is a short story.

Also, this isn't usually the thing I immediately notice, but let me note some of the formatting errors in this publication: the first paragraph is not left-aligned properly; the font changes at page 26; sometimes there is an extra break between paragraphs, sometimes not, and I don't see a pattern; and it looks like there are 2 spaces between words several times per page.  Anyone accurately using Microsoft Word could have fixed most of these.

This novelette doesn't even read like a story; instead, it is an account. The generals moved, the men made camp.  Two lines of dialogue. The men build a bridge; there is a skirmish; "the Union's casualty list for the battle showed 1,754 killed; 8,408 wounded; 2,885 captured or missing" (31).  Seriously, why not just read the textbook.

Whiskey Cove by Denise Frisino.  The framing for this story didn't work.  We didn't get to really know the narrator, so she seemed moody and mercurial.  Narration or letter-writing by the main character would have worked better, if the author was so opposed to a  real-time story.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Neill said...

As it happens, I'm reading the Vor Game and I'm so deeply surprised by how much I like. To me, there's quite a bit of genreblending - science fiction, adventure, but also kind of a family saga. Yes, saga is a very good word to describe this book and the series that it's a part of - not just that there are multiple episodes in this novel and the others but that the author reminds us through the character's consciousness of past episodes and the characters' own musings on identity and personal and family history. Anyway .. would recommend!