In my Good Writers & Bad Writers post I talked about
how reading bad books could help writers figure out what not to do when writing. Now, that I have bumped into an awful book I realized I forgot to tell you how painful it can be to go through such books. So why did I carry on reading? Why do I endure this? Both because of the advice I gave and because I could always learn something new from it. My friends, I am not a bitter person who reads other people’s work so they could only crap on it for the sake of crapping on it. I believe you cannot have an opinion about anything, book, movies or music, if you don’t finish it; in fact, I would go as far as to say you can’t possibly appreciate it (I’m looking at you people who write reviews on books they haven’t finished and saying they suck, it is immature of you. That is like watching the first fifteen minutes of film and writing a review about it). Which brings to today’s book review, V Bertaloccini’s I.E The Interdimendional Extraterrestrial.
So I felt like some sci-fi and since I am new to genre I thought I should pick up something new and written for today’s audience. I avoided the classics and I have always thought it is great discovering a good book that nobody else knows. And despite being told never judge a book by its cover, which we are all guilty off, I chose this book because it looked good. After this I will never ever let myself be fooled by a good cover again. I mean look at this cover, isn’t it filled with promise?
And here is the book description, together they make a good sales pitch:
“A SF action adventure comedy that probes interdimensional extraterrestrials and how they really would handle this world and universe! Deep space highly advanced interdimensional extraterrestrials in another universe pick up an SOS message from this world! What they do not realize is how different this universe is and when their IE messenger materializes it is shot down by a military space weapon!A SF action adventure comedy that probes interdimensional extraterrestrials and how they really would handle this world and universe! Deep space highly advanced interdimensional extraterrestrials in another universe pick up an SOS message from this world! What they do not realize is how different this universe is and when their IE messenger materializes it is shot down by a military space weapon!”
Reading this book will have you thinking there isn’t another conjunction in the English language except “and”. Just look at this quote from the book, and the worst part is that it gets even worse. This quote is just a snippet.
“Cameron rushed into the London psychiatrist’s waiting room late, on morning for his appointment, and avoided doing his clumsy trip and crash through the psychiatrist’s door.
Though when he knocked and was politely asked to enter he rushed in and tripped over his carpet and landed head first into his desk, smashing all the objects on it up into the air and over the floor, and he immediately started collecting the objects off the floor and standing objects back up in their original positions, and finally looked over at the aged psychiatrist staring at him insanely.”
Which makes the reading confusing and childlike. The writing is so disorienting that it gets in the way of experiencing the story. One of the hallmarks of good writing is then the reader feels like there isn’t a separation between text and the story, in other words, they feel like the words on the page don’t distract them.
Then the writer does the laziest thing I have ever seen in a book, when characters talk about an issue they have discussed before in the book copies and pastes the exact conversation with little to no variation at all, making you feel like you have somehow skipped backward. The writer doesn’t do this with dialogue alone, he also does it with prose. If he is narrating an incident similar to before but not exactly the same, he copies and pastes the passages from earlier in the book and changes maybe a sentence or nothing at all after many paragraphs. Imagines how confusing that must be, I can’t tell you how many times I thought my reader my was malfunctioning or I have mistakenly pressed something and skipped backwards when I haven’t. Even worse I suspected the author or people who edited the book had made a mistake like maybe the writer/editor has inserted the wrong scene at the wrong places or the same scene twice in one book. The other horrible aspect of the book is an overuse of specific adjectives and verbs. Damn, the characters in this book always “moan” when they speak and everything is described as “incredible”. I even began to think that maybe I had not, in my long history of reading, understood these words or that maybe they had a completely different meaning. Just when you thought the writing couldn’t get even worse, the author seems to have replaced periods with exclamation marks. Like what? Half the times it sounds like he is shouting, you are not in on a joke or someone played a cruel joke on the author and replaced all the periods with exclamation marks. They end up losing their power and being severely annoying in the end. If you don’t believe me when I say that this excessive use of exclamation marks is horrible I will end each sentence in the next paragraph with exclamation marks and I dare you not to get a seizure, punch the living hell out of cushions or pull your hair out.
So about the actual story, it is not told well or even that convincing! A good story has to be plausible to an extent, not this one though! Sometimes entire scenes are written that don’t contribute anything to the plot! Like not even a tiny bit! There are scenes which are just in there because they are jokes! They are just there for the sake of being funny alone! Jokes the author might have heard in a bar somewhere and the author just thought, “That is so funny I gotta put in my novel!” In the end, you end up reading terrible jokes that are written terribly a whole lot! The characters in this book, including the protagonist, are mere card boxes, one-dimensional pieces of (insert word)! You feel nothing about anything that happens or that they do! I will admit the idea for this book was great, something you could bake into a memorable story, but the way it was told ruined it entirely! After all ideas aren’t stories, and only stories can redeem bad writing, if that was the case we would all be great writers!
You think I am just being too hard right? That probably this was the first book by the author and I should try being considerate to the inexperienced. After all, they could only get better with more practice and time. Well, you are wrong and I was also wrong to think that. This author has been writing for ages. Even before I started (I have been writing for about ten years now). This author has written a dozen books or more, if less it is not under nine books. This person should be getting better or paying attention to the response he is getting from readers (if he is getting any). And just to be sure that this person’s editor or proofreader for this specific book wasn’t playing a cruel joke on him/her or super incompetent, I downloaded one of his other books on random and it read the same as this one. So I don’t think I am being inconsiderate or harsh. In the end, I am glad he/she has written this book as much as it was painful to read because I have learned some stuff from it.
Here is what I learned.
- Exclamation marks are like diamonds, if you give them too generously people are going to start thinking they aren’t worth much.
- Look at the definition of a word if you have doubt about its suitability or, better, don’t use the word at all.
- Characterization is the “Christ” in Christianity, absolutely necessary.
- Ideas need good stories to truly come out and be appreciated.
- Vary sentence length and remember there is more than one way to connect your sentences or thoughts.
- A good cover will get you readers but your writing is where people decide if they want to continue or stop forever.
And aren’t those some valuable lessons? I am glad that I have learned something
p.s My palm was burnt while writing this, which made writing this post painful.
Thanks for reading folks
Now, as tradition, I will leave you with a song lyric that may or may not have anything to do with today’s post:
“Moments of clarity are so rare
I better document this
At last the view is fierce
All that matters is.” – Bjork ‘Stonemilker’