Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I Wanted to Like This eBook
by Ann Massey
I wanted to like this book. You have no idea how much I wanted to like this book.
The first few pages suckered me in then the author dropped me off a cliff into a morass of mindless mishaps.
The author, Ann, offers a colorful opening page. I liked the imagery of a gallery picture compared with the main character’s arrival.
She sets you into the scene immediately with the cab driver, street cleaner, and hobo on the doorstep.
The lead character, Jane, has left a call centre job to run a hotel.
I laughed when Jane typed her notes on an iPad. It just struck me as so modern and so out of place.
It was refreshing in its use of Aussie slang.
A story about a hotel for the homeless is quite a different world from tales and misdeeds of the faux beautiful and their pampered amoral lives -- or about vampires or war. Ann provides a slice of real life with a heavy dose of humor.
I loved her description of the parliamentary receptionist:
“Call me bitchy, but it crossed my mind that the receptionist, a frosted-Nordic lily in a white linen mini dress and with enough silver jewelry to stock Georg Jensen’s showroom, had been chosen to complement the sleek, minimalistic lines of the furnishings.”
Then, I lost the train of thought of the story. I think it started when “Hardie” visited the hotel and Jane and he bumped heads.
Plus, Jane’s mild acquiesce to the take over of her hotel took some of the energy out of the plot.
Jane has intelligence but no common sense. She has no sense about men. She keeps meeting jerks and even hires them.
Her lack of common sense is phenomenal and her ability to learn from her experiences is questionable.
Then the enthusiastic, pessimistic, cockeyed efforts of misfits in various states of disarray, from here and there, somehow pull off a quasi-effective candidate campaign for Jane. Even twitter gets a guest spot.
The introduction of the inner workings of government was interesting for a bit but got bogged down as the author starts introducing new characters with little background. Then Jane seems to find every male she gets near attractive which smacks of a lack of self-control or self-awareness and has the potential for a great deal of disasters.
Sadly, there is no good guy in the story. Horrie does not count. The “hidden” backgrounds of several characters are just too pat.
I know what it’s like to write a few good pages of a story then wander off into a ditch but I could not read all of Jane’s stupid antics; they weren’t even funny or useful in the plot. They seemed like useless decoration just to fill a page with words.
While she does illustrate the opinions and beliefs of phony conservatives, she also provides plenty of poor portraits of liberals enforcing the notions of liberals as flakes, unprofessionals, ignorant sods.
There is not one character in the story that had their shit together. Was this a romance? Was it a mystery? Was it a comedy? Was it an adventure? What was it? It appeared to try and be a bit of everything and ends up being nothing.
Generally, in almost any story, the main characters confront their “demons” or “challenges” and grow, mature or gain knowledge or confidence. All Jane did was hang on. She was like a puppet, little of her own efforts played a role in her success, she followed the advice of anyone who gave it and got lucky.
A bomb? What a tortured path to a confusing, cop-out of an ending that money won’t solve.
I am a first-time ebook author. I know all about the hard work. I know all about the mistakes first-time novelists make because I made them all. But, it is becoming like torture to try and find an author whose books I like.
Samples don’t help. I am seriously considering going back to bookstores because I could find a novel I liked in a bookstore within minutes. It takes too much time to search through various online bookstores to find a title I might try. Then, it takes more time peruse the TOC or the front cover notes etc. then it does to flip through a book to determine if I want to buy it.
I have purchased x amount of e-novels and I have not fully enjoyed any of them. But, I have purchased x amount non-fiction ebooks and I have appreciated all of them.
It is exhausting to try and find novels I like -- I have tried review sites, I have tried “free” books, I have tried recommendations. I am at a loss as to what else to try, but this is getting old. I rarely had this problem when I went into a bookstore.
I like science fiction, I like comedy, I like drama, I like mystery, I like adventure, and more.
I like Janet Evanovitch, Ursula Le Guin, Dorothy Sayers, Dick Francis, John D. MacDonald, and others. One of my favorite novels, “Who Rides the Tiger”, by Doris Miles Disney is probably in the category of romance like Barbara Cartland. So, I am not a literary snob.
I am beginning to wonder if the crux of the problem is that self-published or small press novels lack a “book development” editor. There is no one looking at the story as the sum of its parts.