Thursday, 14 February 2013
Review: The Beginner
The Beginner by Blake M. Petit
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Even though I'm not a horror reader, I picked this up because of how much I enjoyed the author's previous book, [b:Other People's Heroes|1792929|Other People's Heroes|Blake M. Petit|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1333327221s/1792929.jpg|1791912]. It grabbed me straight away and kept me reading, despite the higher-than-I-usually-go-for body count. Not that there are any bodies; the supernatural threat removes people from existence entirely, including everyone's memories of them.
It has fewer editing issues than the other book, though there are some. Most of them are along the lines of "if only should could get it to him" or "bailing wire". There are about a dozen of these that I noticed, plus some odd word choices that I couldn't be sure were wrong. The problems are more at a different level, like a woman whose almond-shaped eyebrows hint at exotic ancestry (I should say so).
The worst problems are with the author's lack of gun knowledge. I'm no gun expert, but I know that you hunt ducks with a shotgun, not a rifle (and definitely not a pellet gun). A shotgun later morphs into a rifle over the course of several pages, and a character twirls the "barrel" of a revolver.
There are a lot of shifts of viewpoint character, and it isn't always clear at the start of a scene who has the viewpoint, since it often isn't the first person who's mentioned. That makes starting a new scene mildly disorienting sometimes.
Apart from these issues, I didn't notice too many problems with the writing while I was reading the book, since the thrilling pace kept me interested and uncritically suspending disbelief, though the more I thought about the premise afterwards, the less likely (and consistent) it seemed. What is destroyed when someone is "closed", and what remains behind? Anything from a bus to a birth certificate can remain, and seemingly anything up to a popular sitcom (with all its videotape, box sets, TV Guide mentions, trivia and memorabilia, presumably) can be wiped out.
Regardless, I enjoyed the ride. So what if the indie filmmaker is making what sounds like a perfectly bland Hollywood movie? The Hollywood movie that is the book was enjoyable anyway. I liked the characters, loved the snarky, clever dialogue, and thrilled to the suspense. Take it for what it is: a summer blockbuster that doesn't have to make complete sense or get everything right in order to be entertaining.
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