Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Bookworm by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The main problem with this book is the spoiled protagonist.
I'm using "spoiled protagonist" as a kind of technical term (I wrote a blog post on it, partly prompted by this book: http://csidemedia.com/gryphonclerks/2013/02/18/the-spoiled-protagonist/). In summary, a spoiled protagonist is a main character who is treated by everyone else in the book as if they were the Chosen One of prophecy, even though, in the book, they're not. The sternest authorities forgive their transgressions, people sacrifice their lives to save them, and they need only whine a little to be given whatever they want, however little they deserve it and however little sense it makes.
Such is Elaine. The logical thing for the authorities to do with her would have been to lock her up for the duration of the emergency, or kill her. That would have left no story, though, so she's allowed to run around loose, even though that risks dangerous knowledge getting into the hands of lunatics who would destroy the world with it.
The language is competent, with few editing errors, but doesn't rise above the ordinary. There are no cleverly-turned phrases or well-chosen metaphors. It's a solid three stars for language.
The plot depends in part on people not acting intelligently, which puts me off a book, but is otherwise competent enough. Two and a half stars.
Character I've already mentioned. Two stars.
The setting swoops in and barely saves the book at four stars. It's detailed, and it feels like there's a whole world with history and geography. There are some issues, though. The Asterix the Gaul reference struck me as silly, and the suspenseful denouement is not the place for infodumps. There's a mismatch between the barely contained anarchy that's described and the just and reasonable authorities that we actually see.
The book has definite strengths, but it also has significant problems. On average, I found it average.
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