Thursday, October 23, 2008

Review: Those Who Dream by Day, by Linda Cargill

I really struggled with what to write in this review. Actually, I struggled to come up with something positive to say, and came up with: the premise of the novel is promising--a thriller set around the sinking of the Lusitania and the Arabian revolts. While onboard the Lusitania, Dora Benley, a college junior and the daughter of a Pittsburgh tire magnate, encounters a mysterious man who demands that she return something she has apparently stolen. Later, the same man is found in the boiler room, tampering with a fuse. Later, Dora’s fiancĂ©e goes missing in the Arabian dessert. The premise is pretty much the only good thing about this novel.

On the surface, the book desperately needs a good proofreader and copyeditor, for grammar and consistency respectively. But all the proofreading and copyediting in the world aren't going to help this book with its bigger flaws. The writing style is descriptive in some parts, but then you’ll have periods of jerky movements where you feel as though something got cut out. The whole book actually feels like a first draft, with inconsistencies in detail throughout.

The characters are wooden, and the dialogue is stilted and a little anachonistic (did they really say things like, "yuck!" in 1919?). There were many times when something completely unlikely would happen—for example, a man would end up knifed in his back, and next thing you know, he’s up and walking like normal! Um, don’t people normally die or end up otherwise incapacitated if that happened? Then, there was this whole confusing scene on the Lusitania where the mysterious stranger performs something out of Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, without the sex. Then, when Dora’s in captivity, in a cabin where apparently no one can hear her yell for help, she can hear (perfectly) the conversations of people walking past. Seriously, it was so bad I was laughing. And, the author's obsession with her alma mater was a little amateur and annoying.

Dora’s relationship with Edward Ware is completely forced and awkward, and seemed to be based entirely on sex (I’m sorry, getting engaged after knowing someone for only two days? Who does that?). Ditto on her relationship with Michael. For a girl who’s supposedly so intelligent, Dora seems to be a little bit dumb. The villain was a little dumb, too: when Michael comes to rescue Dora, he does so using a set of keys that the bad guy has conveniently left on the table. Earlier, the bad guy, chasing Dora and shooting at her with a gun, yells, “stop! Come back here!” Yeah, if someone with a gun was chasing me, the first thing I’d do is go back to them. In summary, then, this boook had an intriguing premise, but the writing wasn’t good enough to keep me reading past the first 150 pages or so. I used to work as an intern at a literary agency, and I would reject tons of manuscipts of books like this. I'm guessing that there's a fairly good reason for why this novel is self-published. Will be published in January.


Serena said...

Sounds like a tough read. I really hate when the hero or heroine is dumb and they are supposed to be smart...that's annoying. Editing...why is it being published...that would be so embarrassing to have that out there with my name on it.

Amanda said...

O that sucks! It sounds like such an interesting premise too.

bookchronicle said...

Kudos to you for making it through the book, it certainly sounds like a tough one. Like Amanda said, it sounds like an interesting premise, and thanks for being honest.

Kristen M. said...

I feel like there are more new books lately that are in need of good editors. Of course, I would venture that the self-published novel might not have seen a professional editor at all.

AC said...

I once saw a glaring grammatical error on a jacket flap of a book I was thinking about getting, and just put it back. There are too many good books out there to waste time reading one that's sloppy. Thanks, Katherine, for doing the hard work so the rest of us won't have to!

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