Friday, October 15, 2010

tell one story well

The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Review: Multiple perspectives can do wonderful things for a narrative. When it's done well, it can help flesh out the story and give the reader more insights than can be garnered from a single character. When it's done poorly, or haphazardly, multiple perspectives only serve to impede the flow of the story, and can confuse the reader. Such is the case here, where Davis gives us the perspective of many characters, including several of the pets in the small town in which her story is set. Here, the multiple perspectives have the effect of muddying the waters so that the reader can never gets a clear picture of any of the characters and can never know what's important to the story.

It's too bad that Davis never lets any one character's story come through fully, because she gives us several interesting threads. One character can bring people and animals back to life, but only under certain circumstances. What circumstances? How does she feel about her ability? Occasionally we feel as though we may be getting close to delving deeper into one perspective, but than Davis tears the story away to another character, or perhaps gives us a horoscope or something from the local police blotter. The effect is a very jerky, frustrating read.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

major melodrama

A Call from Jersey by P.F. Kluge
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Review: The entire time I was reading this book, I felt like I was missing something, like it was the sequel to a book I hadn't read. Relationships were written as though there was a lot of tension between characters, but nothing was developed enough (either in the backstory or the present story) for me to really care about where the tension came from, or whether it got resolved. Most of the characters seemed to just drift through the story, occasionally colliding with each other in encounters that were evidently supposed to be very weighty, but really just seemed like random plot devices. I think Kluge was aiming for high drama, but only managed to give us melodrama.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.