It seems that when you read as much as I do, things tend to run in cycles. I will either hit a string of great reads, fiction and non-fiction alike, or a hit a spate of things that turn into a real slog to try to get through. Lately when it comes to fiction I have hit the slog zone…
The Outsider – Stephen King (Scribner)
In rare sojourn from the familiar confines of small town Maine, Stephen King weaves an interesting plot line into his at once familiar atmosphere of small town Flint City and drops the corpse of an 11 year old boy into the middle of things and stirs with a suspect who is instantly recognizable in the town and King’s prior work. So far, so good right?
The slog starts when King can’t quite manage to avoid letting his politics and correctness start to seep into the pages of The Outsider. While not overtly political, you can’t quite escape the obvious lurking in the story line. When you think about it, like most folks, I turn to King for the pure escape of delving to the twisted mind/world of a true horror master. That pursuit of escape is spoiled by his need to let everyone know where he stands on the political scale.
Sorry, but you’re free to have and express any opinion you’d like, but to have it intrude into your work makes it seem like a lack of self-control. I don’t turn to Stephen King or any other fiction writer to get the low down on where they stand on the issues, I come to entertained and step away from the day to day reality.
The Kremlin Conspiracy – Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale House)
Joel Rosenberg is single-handedly responsible for some of the most explosive works of fiction that have a ripped from today’s headlines feel, and in some cases an almost Nostradamus-like ripped from next month’s or next year’s headlines forecasting the future quality.
His latest, The Kremlin Conspiracy unfortunately does quite clear the high bar that his prior outings have set. This one becomes a bit of slog with the multi-stage plotlines and characters not quite matching up. I found that the first third of the book is spent trying to develop the setting and tone and it seems at times like it could have been done with more economy of words and scale and achieved a better outcome.
While the read between the lines and see reality certainly showcases some familiar parallels to real world characters, it tends to come off as predictable and a bit dry, plus I’m not sure the “cliffhanger” ending left me breathlessly awaiting the next installment.
Adjustment Day – Chuck Palahniuk (W.W. Norton)
Chuck Palahniuk is a different kind of cat who dabbles in his own unique brand of twisted fiction. While he has certainly served up some memorable efforts in the past (Fight Club/Choke), I am not quite sure that his latest outing, Adjustment Day quite lives up to his prior billing.
There is something that is overtly familiar about the storyline, a been there done that mix of 1984, Logan’s Run, In Time, and The Purge movies. While he is well known taking his rapier approach to things cultural and societal in nature, with this outing that approach seems to get bogged down by political overtones that creep into these pages.
Okay, we get it; you don’t like where things are or where they may be headed in your estimation, but to have it intrude into your storyline gets a bit exasperating for some of your readers that may come from a different mindset.