Chyrsalis Chronicles: The Eyes of the Desert Sand—Edwin Wolfe
This is my second AR copy of a book that I have received through the Librarything Early Reviewers program. I was looking forward to reading something new, with the belief that nothing could be as disappointing as the first one I received. While I would say that this one is not as bad as the first one, I have to say I was frustrated while reading this book. This was true not only of the writing style but also of the grammar and punctuation. Maybe the answer is just to not "bid" on young adult books from the Early Reviewers program...
For me, this book was trying too hard to be Harry Potter. It's clear from the "advance praise" that was included on the back of the book: "A charming debut from an author who is sure to draw comparisons to none other than J.K. Rowling." And even though this is only the first book for this series (and the author), they are already planning on having seven books in the series.
The book focuses on Ethan Fox, who is pulled into this supernatural world which is shrouded in mystery. He is joined by a slew of mythical creatures and beings who accompany him on his journey through this land. One thing I always really enjoyed about Rowling's books was her use of actual mythical beings in her writing. I don't mind inventiveness and creativity in a book about supernatural and mystical beings - in fact, that's exactly what this type of book calls for. However, unless you're actually going to commit to being innovative, and presenting the reader with entirely new creations, don't bother. I found it annoying to have these creatures presented to me in the guise of something new, when they were really just poorly recycled versions of everything I've seen and read before.
I will never claim to be an expert in grammar, but things that are clearly grammatically incorrect drive me a bit insane. This is especially true for punctuation. I understand having some issues figuring out tense problems or split infinitives, but commas are simple. This book made me CRAZY with the abuse and misuse of commas. It really added to the feeling of lazy writing to see sentences that were clearly not meant to have commas in them, were clearly two independent sentences, but yet were mushed together. On top of that, there were more than few sentence which I felt needed commas in order to make sense, and yet seemed to be missing them. Rather than using rich language and creative writing, it really seemed as though Wolfe did as little work as possible to get his vision of his world across. This not only speaks to lazy writing, but lazy editing as well. There were two very clear grammatical errors, in addition to the overwhelming use of commas: one was the use of the word "decent" when the word "descent" was obviously the word that was meant to be used. The other was the wrong use of they're (their was the version used in the book). The second
This book continues a trend that I have noticed recently. It's clear the author wrote the book with the expectation that it will become a movie. This makes for lazy narrative and poorly created pictures. Rather than utilizing descriptive language, authors will instead attempt to write the scene as it might appear in a screenplay. This was one of my major problems with the Twilight series (beyond it being horrible) - it was abundantly clear to me that Meyers had written it with the express purpose of turning it into a film. That is not the purpose of a book.
A large portion of this for me is the prevalence of dialogue as a means of presenting an important plot point. When I think of many books that are considered classics - books by authors like Hugo, the Brontes, Austen - they would often go pages without dialogue. Authors used to have skill in developing a story, and this skill seems to have gone by the wayside. Instead, characters will suddenly have an epiphany or commence with a monologue. Again, this is the "screenplay" issue - screenplays rely heavily on dialogue, and rightfully so. If your intention when writing a book is to have it eventually transition to a screenplay, of course you're going to include a large amount of monologue and conversation. I'm done with this trend. If I wanted to see a movie, I would go see a movie. Give me a book. A real honest-to-goodness book. Those are the ones that make the best movies anyway.
Once again, I'm underwhelmed. I can only hope that, should I be fortunate enough to receive another advance copy of a book, I will enjoy it more.