Dark Seed: No one knows what evil grows: An ecological thriller by Lawrence Verigin. I can't tell which of the subtitles is the real subtitle, and which is a sub-subtitle or other weirdness sometimes found on the front of books; neither appears on the title page or in the publication information.
- The sentences are uniformly short; variety would be nice.
- Inconsistent comma use and generally poor punctuation choices throughout.
- Narration/main character thoughts are shallow, repetitive, heavy-handed, and not realistic.
- The organization of the mystery is fair, but dialogue and character reactions feel fake.
- Inconsistent translation of Italian dialogue-- sometimes italicized, sometimes not, sometimes in quotation marks, occasionally no translation provided at all. The spoken Italian is also sometimes italicized, sometimes not.
The Muse by Sylvia Gilbertson.
I don't get the characters, particularly Michel. I don't understand him, why he does what he does. I understand Ada a bit better, but find her annoying, not a sympathetic character. I read the entire book trying to get into their heads, and I can't tell if the book is poorly-written, or if I'm having an anti-social week.
I kept alternating-- it's good, it's awful-- and read the entire thing trying to figure out which. The answer is, the sentences and descriptions are mesmerizing, the characters are very poor.
The Harem Games by Jorge Carreras Jr. My notes:
- terrible cover-- poor design, off center, ixelated.
- sever overuse of all caps, exclamation points, and combo exclamation-question marks. Even a "!?!" on pg. 3 already. Dialogue and narration, not punctuation, should carry the story.
- "kracks knuckles"?
- very poorly written-- it seems like the narrator is supposed to actually be talking to us, although narration not in quotations. But if he isn't, what's with all the other weirdness: "(The scene shifts to the bridal holding area where the future harem brides are selected.) (p.5)" Why not just unite that, describe it as part of the story? It's maybe like this is suposed to be the behind-the-scenes track on this reality story, but so poorly done.
- the narrator swaps mid-chapter with no indication.
Odd and interesting that the major characters aren't named, although minor characters are. I suppose they have less of their own identity, so we can put more of ourselves into them.
Maybe not for a huge audience, but those who read it will adore it. Perhaps a good book club title?
Saving Laura by Jim Satterfield. I really loved this book, the author's writing. The first part of the book was definitely the better part, focusing on the main character. In the second part, when he interacts with people a lot more, it was quite as great, although it's hard to say why. The dialogue was realistic, the reactions were good; it was just something about the intensity of the writing not matching the expected intensity of the situations. People are scheming and worried for their lives, but the writing didn't quite reach the necessary level of suspense. The ending was also a little too quick (or not quick enough)-- we experience the crisis, the character doesn't die, but then there are two pages of wrapping up the next 30 years. Those always feel so neat, too much so. He should have stopped at the bottom of page 232 and just left it.
Still an excellent book and an author to watch.