Sunday, June 5, 2016

Write a better book, then

Started a book the other day from the Princeton library's recommended reads and it was atrocious. So bad that I started to worry that I was suffering from some kind of sudden dementia because I couldn't follow the sentences. The cover explanation should have been enough for me not to pick it up.

The story is set in Victorian England (I think? They have carriages and parasols, so that's my guess) and the characters include both vampires and werewolves. The two main characters have names I kept confusing--Rue and Widget or something. "Rue" was short for Prudence, but it took me like two chapters to figure that out.  Rue or Prue or Rudence (she was called many names) is a meta-natural, which means that if she touches the skin of a vampire or werewolf, she becomes that creature for a few hours, and zaps the individual's powers for a while. I can imagine the brainstorming that led to this idea. Let's see...I need to come up with a completely different thing; how about a woman who can fly like a vampire and run like a dog? No, doesn't make sense. A woman who is a vampire in the daytime and a werewolf at night? Big deal. A zombie who looks like a werewolf? A witch with fangs but only during a full moon? Or a person who can become either a vampire or a werewolf temporarily, so that she can spirit away in the middle of formal ball (that's what happened in one instance)?  The writing felt peculiar; like the author was trying to be surprising and clever, but instead ended up creating sentences that were tangled and un-charming. Stuff like: “Rue was further delighted. She twirled. She’d even left her hair down. It felt very wicked." How is one further delighted? Should that be delighted further? Is "left" a typo for "let?" How is twirling and left-ing your hair down wicked?

Add to this the abundance of characters with similar names (one of the men is called Percy, too much like his sister who is named Prim--short form Primrose [read: whimsical!] and also too much like Rue). I almost never knew who was doing what or why. I don't finish books I don't like. I moved on to another one by Charles Lambert called The Children's Home and was relieved to find that I understood the sentences.

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