Sunday, November 06, 2016

the frustrating book reviews

hello there

i've finished off reading another couple of books, to be sure. and by couple i do indeed mean two, look you see. sadly, as the title more or less says, they were not the most enjoyable books i have read. this isn't to say that they weren't at times enjoyable and interesting, though.

my, that's all somewhat convoluted if not contradictory for an introduction. it is quite possible it's all confusing in the opening paragraph as i am somewhat confused. yes, manflu has commenced taking hold of me at the moment, and so all is somewhat wonky in regards of perspective and understanding.

a quick look at the books? sure, that's probably going to be the best next step. as well as the standard one to take after an introduction of whatever nature.

it's actually quite tricky to do a spoiler free overview in this instance, dear reader, as the main gripe with both does kind of give incidental spoilers. with that in mind, then, an overview would be that Ghost Flight off of  him off TV and that, Bear Grylls, is a wonderful adventure but is let down by being open ended in conclusion. Blood Loss by Alex Barclay is at heart a good crime / mystery story, but all too often lets itself get distracted and relies on some rather cheap narrative tricks to try and build up surprise.

from here on out, then, somewhat more overt spoilers are possible if not likely. you've been warned, as it were. also, as ever, links to the global grocer for each novel are no sign of endorsement or affiliation from me; just trying to make it easier for those around the world who might wish to buy on the fly. 

for the most part it would be quite fair to say that my experience, knowledge and understanding of Bear Grylls extends as far as being aware of him being someone who has turned his quite prolific passion for drinking his own urine into quite a formidable television and entertainment career. bravo him. it meant that i had some concerns that his first novel, Ghost Flight, might feature an overtly heavy level of focus on this particular pastime, but mostly such acts are excluded.

provenance of my copy? that price sticker suggests it is off of Tesco, either as part of a 2 for £7 deal on books or just £3.85 for it alone. no, i didn't notice the Jonathan Ross endorsement on the cover before i bought it.

plot? a former top notch, uber best of the best special forces elite SAS dude called Jaeger finds himself in a torturous African prison. he gets busted out by some colleagues and contemporaries, as they need him to host a TV show about a daring mission to retrieve a mysterious German aeroplane of war that had crashed into the Brazilian rainforest during the final days of World War II. although known to be tough in advance, it goes a lot tougher than anticipated as it seems they are not alone in all of a sudden wanting to get their hands on this plane......

any good? actually yes, right up until the last few chapters. the one thing which strikes you straight away with this is just how well written this is. this Bear Grylls strikes me as quite talented in several disciplines to begin with; writing can most decidedly be added to that. well, writing or selecting a hellishly good editor, whichever turned out to be the case.

sure, certain aspects of the plot seem to be preposterous, but they are never what you might call outlandishly so. the pacing is perfect, and there are some wise narrative choices - no need to spend 100 pages describing a couple of days down a river, for instance, when you can just skip to the next point of interest.

it's just sad that this, as the end of the novel is reached, clearly turns out to be "part one" of a story, with no warning anywhere that this would be the case. the tale is gripping enough for you to want a conclusion, and you simply don't get it. the extracts and notes for what will be the second novel suggest that there might be a few things left open that get resolved, but by no means all. as i love to read complete novels in their own right it's always highly disappointing when you get caught out by a novel in this way.

the provenance of my copy of Blood Loss off of Alex Barclay? inside cover suggests my local library, where it seems i paid £1 for it. this must have looked good when i was in there browsing, then.

plot? FBI agent Ren Bryce is investigating the latest brutal attack by a vicious rapist that leaves strange drawings at crime sites (this is apparently the third or forth novel to feature the FBI character). she is however called away from this to investigate the disappearance, if not possible abduction, of an 11 year old girl and her teenage babysitter from a recently opened hotel. a far from straightforward case becomes more complex (and convoluted) in the face of misdirecting information and frequently unreliable witnesses......

the story and idea of Blood Loss are quite good. the execution in this novel, however, is sadly wanting. some really cheap and lazy tricks are used to mislead the reader, making "clever" plot twists fall and creating a sense that you've been cheated out of a proper read. the handling of Ren Bryce's curious sex life, for she seems to be formidable and not particularly keen to remain with one partner, is distracting and handled in, considering the context of the novel, a surprisingly overtly Mills & Boon kind of fashion. throw into this a sibling rivalry that appears to have no rhyme nor reason and, well, it's little surprise that Ren isn't all that great an FBI agent and it's far from being an enjoyable or rewarding reading experience.

on the one side Alex Barclay has written and published a novel better than i've managed to achieve in my life thus far. on the other, however, it's difficult knowing now what i do to argue with the general consensus of reviews, which is "don't bother reading this". a shame because, as i am keen to highlight again, the basics of the plot and twists are actually very good.

with such limited time and opportunity to read these days it is quite a shame when books like these two happen to me. whilst i know not everything i pick up can be assured or certified as a great read, it's frustrating when you're not aware that the book you are enjoying is not a complete novel but rather a segment of a bigger story.

anyway, as usual, if these reviews have been of use to someone somewhere, splendid!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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