Monday, February 12, 2007

Woosh! Boom!

Currently, I'm reading a book by Matthew Reilly: Seven Deadly Wonders.

And as I read it, I wonder why. I ponder this every time I read one of his books.
His inconsistency is what's so maddening. Some of it is good, but some of it very, very bad. He almost approaches Dan Brown levels of poor writing. Except his prose is not quite as purple, and his plotting is a little tighter.

Where a more accomplished writer might use adjectives and carefully constructed sentences to describe a small hand launched missile arcing through the air, Matthew Reilly sees no need when the following will suffice:

I swear to God, italics and all that is how missile launching is presented in his book. Oh, and he doesn't limit the exclamation point to just missile launches. Now, having exclamations appear in a character who under stress or excited is OK. But he uses it in the narrator's voice; a third-person voice that should be a detached, objective reporter of events. Exclamatory narrative is peppered quite regularly throughout his books. It's like a bad high school creative writing assignment. Like this sentence/paragraph:

A giant square-shaped block of granite --its shape filling the slipway perfectly and its leading face covered in vicious spikes --was coming down the slipway, coming directly toward them!

See what I mean about the exclamation point? And what's with the em dashes? Are they really necessary?

Yet, here I am reading it. Because there are some sections he does quite well. Such as the weird convoluted ancient mysteries that seem to be ubiquitous in these kind of guilty pleasure books. It's somewhat plausible in the whole "thriller writer rules of science" kind of way. And his info-dumps are pretty good and presented in a mostly non-distracting way. But he's no James Rollins (Sandstorm rocks. Hard.). There's an author who manages to write a weird plot with fairly decent, well rounded characters, and a narrative voice that sounds authoritative, yet still manages to raise a level of suspense without resorting to exclamatory sentences.

But, at least it isn't Dan Brown. He of the recycled plot. He writes the same damn book over and over and over. Oh, he occasionally changes up the gender of the protagonist. But still...

Of course the fact that I'm reading yet another Matthew Reilly book means that of course I'll read the next Dan Brown opus.


I just realized I'm insane.