Sunday, 16 December 2012
Review: The Box
The Box by Ben Guilfoy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I stopped reading The Box two-thirds of the way through. It wasn't engaging me enough, and I had other things to read that I thought I would enjoy more. I wasn't quite sure why it didn't engage me until I read a post on the author's blog.
In that post, Guilfoy talks about modeling his stories on TV episodes, and that is exactly what The Box is. It reads like a straight description of an episode in a (fairly average) TV show.
The problem with that is that when I sit down to read, I'm looking for more than I will get from a TV show. I don't just want to know the characters' actions and reactions to what they see and hear. I want to know what's going on inside the head of at least one of them. What are their pasts, their hopes and dreams and desires, their thoughts and feelings? What do the events mean to them? I want to see them change and grow and develop as characters, too. I haven't gone back and checked thoroughly, but my memory is that we get little, if any, of that in The Box. It's all action and dialogue.
I'm also looking for writing that is more than simply functional, that is flowing and competent, that has commas in all the right places and chooses exactly the right word. I didn't get that either.
It's not terrible. I've read much worse. But for me, it was lacking in a lot of what I look for when I read a story.
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