Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rare Sight: The Back Side of the Moon

Have you ever seen a string of glowing reviews and wondered if there might be another side to the matter? We certainly have. So we're going to let you in on something few people get to see.

There actually haven't been that many pans of the Distant Cousin books (aside from a couple of sockpuppets at Amazon), but there have been a couple. No book, not even the Bible, will please everyone. Readers' reasons for not liking a book are many, and it's sometimes instructive to see what people do NOT like about one's work. In that spirit, we will give you a peek at something few authors dare to publicize: "the REST of the story!"

1. First of all, I could not finish this book. I did read almost three quarters of it.... After reading most of this novel, I still never received much information about Darcy's planet, lifestyle, etc.... I felt the most interesting aspect of the storyline was virtually ignored.... The writing style was extremely simplistic. Sentences were short staccato beats against a nondescript background. There were some nice metaphors and a few vivid descriptions. For the most part, though, the narrative had almost a reporter-like feeling, with the reader being kept at a distance. Editing/Formatting both were of professional quality. Rated PG for some Adult Situations

[Editor's note: Our apologies for not writing the book you wish we had written!]

2. I enjoyed the book right up to the end and then felt I'd been conned into buying the conclusion to the episode.

[Editor's note: The next book, Distant Cousin: Repatriation, is not the conclusion. The Distant Cousin books are the story of an extraterrestrial woman, her growing family, and their adventures. To this day, we do not know when the conclusion will arrive.]

3. The writing is mediocre, at best. Perhaps it is something that readers who do not enjoy a challenge will like but I do not.... One of the roommates, Cheryl, is African American. The author, in writing dialogue for this character, has her speaking in that stereotypical way that others do who want the reader to know this person is 1) black, and 2) ignorant of proper grammar.... I am not an African American and I have no antipathy for dialect which is appropriate for a culture or a time period. But, this character is a college student living in modern America. The author is simply lazy; using a literary device to impart a stereotype to the reader. If the author needed for the reader to know the character was African American, for some reason, it could be done in an intelligent manner rather than perpetuating a negative stereotype because it was easy. I will never read another book by this author!

(Editor's note: Cheryl was not African American, but Barbadian, as was clearly stated many times in the story. For those who may be laboring under a misapprehension, Barbados is not, say, a city in Illinois but an island nation in the Caribbean. The author (who has a PhD in linguistics) lived there for two years.)

4. The writing is somewhat YA, and, in fact, I recommended the book to my 18-year old niece. It's a quick read, though, probably great beach material, but there are large sections I skimmed. The middle is a sleepy domestic interlude (which could have been much shorter) and as a result the book doesn't maintain the grip of the adventure it promises to be in the beginning and returns to at the end

5. The Nitty Gritty: It seems like another age when I started in on Mr. Past’s novel. It was, in fact, the last time I had access to a laptop and I managed to get the whole way through “Book One” in that volume before I found myself preoccupied to too great a degree to carry on. Although I did not feel that the novel was one I was never going to finish it has taken me a while. So Book One is pretty decent, decent enough to finish and want to read more.... It starts out in a blaze of mannered thesaurus-bashing prose that is quite sickly. Once it recovers from this start it settles into a perky economic style that keeps its head down and runs for the finish at a fair old pace. Overall Book One comes in as a pretty well crafted novella.And so, all this time later, on to Books two and three... the plot takes a heavy slug veering away from juggling Darcy’s personal life and her SF adventure into a pure exposition of her integration into earth society and her budding say that this is an extended meander is to be kind. Basically Book two could have adequately been summarised in about a paragraph with nothing major being missed....There is no hook and no incentive to come back for more and that is a crime that is inexcusable.

And now, to cleanse our editorial palate, we present a review which gives us a chuckle to this day:

6. I know when I'm really loving a book when I don't want to quit reading to go to the bathroom. Distant Cousin was that kind of book for me. I don't like scary books or movies but the alien coming to earth in this book was full of adventure without making me lose sleep at nights. The characters had depth and believability and the plot was not predictable. One of my very favorite reads.

For the brighter side of the moon, see this, and this.

1 comment:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Aren't all black people African-Americans? My students recently wrote about Nelson Mandela, describing him repeatedly as an African-American, working to achieve equality for all African-Americans in South Africa. ;)

Of course, my students are only 10 years old.