August 7, 2007

Too awful to finish: "The Traveler," by John Twelve Hawks

(Longtime followers of my creative projects know that in general I don't like publishing bad reviews; that for the most part I see it as a waste of both my time and yours, in that I could be spending that time instead pointing out great artists you may have never heard of. However, since one of the things this website is dedicated to is honest artistic criticism, I also feel it's important to acknowledge books that I found just too bad to bother finishing, as well as give you an idea of why I found them that bad to begin with. Hence, this series of short essays. Don't forget, the entire list of books I've found too awful to finish can be found on CCLaP's main book review page.)


The Accused: The Traveler, by "John Twelve Hawks" (pseudonym) (Doubleday / ISBN: 0-385-51428-X)

How far I got: 24 pages. Yeah, I know.

1) Taking one of the few opportunities each year that occur for a science-fiction book to get a general-interest marketing budget, and wasting it on this hacky, sloppy, glorified fan-fiction dreck.

2) Clumsily ripping off major concepts from four sci-fi movies and six sci-fi novels within the first three chapters, in an astonishingly offhanded way that makes the author seem like he never thought anyone would figure it out.

3) Being particularly heinous with the Slow Death by Exposition, an already consistent problem within a lot of genre work but especially bad here. "Harlequins prefer old-looking cities." "Harlequins only live in places with three separate exits." "Harlequins only wear dark, expensive fabrics with custom tailoring." Yes yes yes, and Chuck Norris has a f---ing posse, I get it.

4) Affecting that cloying, obvious, Benetton-rainbow style of multiculturism so common in this Web 2.0 era; where there's a Japanese Harlequin and an Arab Harlequin and a British Harlequin and a whole globe of other superfriends, traipsing their way across the world to have the same exact bland conversations and bland action scenes no matter where they are. And by the way, "Twelve Hawks," just because you've looked up the names of a couple of metro stations does not mean that you've painted a convincing mental image of that city. Give us a sense that you actually know something about all these global locations your book is known for, besides the stuff you can look up at Wikipedia.

5) Not understanding that making a plucky, quirky, rebellious pale young girl the main hero was already tired and cliche 20 damn years ago. Also, for making her too much like Lara Croft. Also, not the marginally cool Lara Croft from the videogame but the infinitely annoying Angelina-Jolie Lara Croft of the movies.

6) Deliberately withholding the author's real name, in a desperate bid to drum up a little viral-marketing-style publicity over who it might be. Come on, Doubleday, we all know who the real author is; some pasty, acne-riddled 23-year-old nobody, who wears floor-length leather coats and sunglasses at night to the Saturday-night filk session of Dragonomicon 17. "Worst. Attempt. At. Building. False. Suspense. Ever!"

7) Convincing me to completely give up on a 500-page book before even hitting chapter 4. Seriously, that's impressive.

8) Making this the first book in a trilogy. A trilogy?! Cheese and Rice, Doubleday, are you freaking kidding me?!

Verdict: Innocent by reason of insanity.

Sentence: Indefinite incarceration in the St. Asimov Home for Wayward Science Fiction Fanboys Who Think They Too Can Write A Novel Because They've Seen The Matrix One Zillion Freakin' Times.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 1:37 PM, August 7, 2007. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |