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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Mind of a Genius

by David Snowdon

I accepted this book for review because it sounded interesting - The MI4, the CIA and the Denmark Intelligence are all after the project of a top British scientist. This project would change the world. I wanted to know more about the project and who was going to get it.

Sadly, after 30 pages I had lost all interest. And I was getting increasingly irked at the character descriptions. The author had a pat way of introducing each character, as seen in this example:
"Stephen Jones, which was his real name, was 58, 6-foot-2-inches and powerfully built. He had a head full of dark brown curly hair, and he wore an ear-ring on his left ear, a habit that he had adopted in his 20's and couldn't get rid of.
Tonight he wore a short-sleeved navy blue shirt and a pair of white cotton trousers."

Each character was introduced in exactly the same way - name, age, brief description and what they were wearing on that day. Sometimes it helps to flesh -out a character to know how they dressed, but I don't think it's necessary for every character's first introduction. And there are quite a few characters introduced in the first 30 pages.

I decided to give the author another try before throwing the book against the wall, so I flipped back to a random page and started to read the last sentence on page 97.
"At 3-foot-8, Shorty, Terry McGee was a dwarf. He had well-groomed, dark brown hair and brown eyes. "
And today, he wore a black suit, which had been tailor-made for him with a yellow shirt and a black tie." UGH!

One final chance - I turned all the way to the back, almost. I figured that maybe once all the characters were introduced the author wouldn't feel the need to tell us what the characters were wearing. No luck. This next bit was just 3 pages from the end.
"As she entered the living room, she got a shock.
Sitting on one of the chairs, a cheeky smile on his face, and a drink within his reach, was Jason Clay.
He was wearing a white shirt with a pair of white cotton trousers."

There were some other BIG problems with the book in addition to the flat characterization, but I'm tired of dissing a first-time author. The copy I have is an ARC, so there's a chance some of the problems will be fixed in the book when it hits the bookstores. We can only hope.

I am not going to finish this one - add it to the DNF pile.

16 comments:

jenclair said...

Sorry this one turned out to be a DNF. Always frustrating to look forward to a book that doesn't fulfill its promise.

Staci said...

I applaud your honesty!! And I have to say I laughed out loud when once again the character had "white cotton trousers" on!!!

Kristen M. said...

You just made me laugh out loud. BTW, I'm 5'4", have long brown hair with caramel highlights and am wearing a long-sleeved green shirt with blue jeans.

Hah! I think I would start screaming everytime this formula was repeated again.

Literary Feline said...

Oh, that's too bad! Just from your first paragraph, I was already beginning to drool. I have been known to like descriptive writing, but the examples you give are definitely too much information. I don't think I would have made it very far into that one either.

Booklogged said...

Jenclair, it is rather frustrating.

Staci, I know - it's bad.

Kristen, glad I made you laugh. You did the same for me. LOL

Lit Feline, the idea for the book sounds good, doesn't it? It was that formulaic description that really put me off. And a few other things.

Framed said...

Sounds like he was just trying to meet his word quota. Too bad, since the premise sounded so interesting, that he got sidetracked with meaningless descriptions.

Lisa R.D. said...

Your post made me laugh too. And it made me grateful that I am not going to read this book :).

Sarah Britton said...

I completely disagree with your comments on this book. I read the book in three days and I absolutely enjoyed it. I also read his first book and that was also very good. David Snowdon is a good writer who knows how to thrill the readers.

Nadine Singh said...

I don't think it's fair for you to take quotes from an author's book and mockingly post it on your blog. "The Mind of a Genius" is a good book. And if the book was sent to you, you should show a lot more gratitude than that.

Booklogged said...

Framed, it did have a great premise.

Lisa, a good laugh is a good thing.

Sarah, it's good to have disagreements. We all enjoy books differently, don't we?

Nadine, I really didn't mean to mock the author or anything else. I merely was writing a book review. When I accept a book to review I always warn the author that I will be honest in my critique. The author usually says that is what he wants. I do appreciate receiving ARCs but they come with a job. It is NOT a gift. The author expects me to take the time to read his/her book and then to write a review. I'm sure he would prefer a positive review, but I'm not going to lie.

Les said...

Too bad this wasn't a winner. Sounds like the author's writing not only needed more polish, but perhaps a more thorough editor.

Wonder if Sarah and Nadine are friends/relatives of Snowdon's. Fairly harsh comments from both. Review copies are just that. Not gifts and not to be coddled just for publicity. I for one appreciate your honest assessment of the book.

Zibilee said...

With such methodical character descriptions, I doubt if I would be able to read even the 30 pages you tackled! Sorry to hear this one was no good.

Shem Casswell said...

Before you slam an author, you've got to get your facts right. You didn't read the book, yet you decided to review it. I like those descriptions and it's one of the reasons I read Snowdon's books.

LisaMM said...

Lisa, in her mid-40's, 5 ft 10, sporting wet hair and wearing a pink fuzzy robe, is laughing her ass off! Especially at the last comment! Shem- what facts does she need to get straight? She gave several examples of the flat characterization so personally I think she gave it more than a fair shake. There was no slamming of the author.

rob said...

This sounds like an unfortunate case of self-published blues. (According to Amazon, Pentergen Books have published two volumes, both from David Snowdon.)

It's difficult to review self-published books, because you can't say nice things about the wheat without being cold about an awful lot of chaff. Still, good on you for entering the conversation.

Rob, 6'3".

Maggie said...

Those kind of descriptions would drive me nuts too. I like a thriller that makes my heart pound right from the first page. If you get a chance, check out Deadly Exchange by Geoffrey Gluckman. I just finished it, and it had me hooked from beginning to end.