Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Gargoyle - A Review. Of Sorts

My boyfriend bought this book the other day, because it had been recommended to him by someone at work. With very little urging, he returned it the next day. Because it was awful.

Now, a true reviewer would actually read the whole book, to give as objective a review as humanly possible - or, at the very least - to get ammunition. I didn't, and neither did my boyfriend, because phrases like "unholy yoga" made our collective brains dribble out our ears. Whatever - I am not ashamed.

The premise of the book is really interesting: a horribly disfigured man living in a burn ward starts getting talked at by someone from the psych ward upstairs, who is convinced they knew each other a few hundred years ago. I gather the whole point is to figure out whether or not Burn Ward Victim is being harassed by Crazy Girl From Upstairs, or whether or not she's actually telling the truth. I don't know. I didn't get that far.

The author is in love with colourful sentences. This, by itself, is not a bad thing. Sentences should be colourful. They should bring out images in the readers' heads and those images should be vivid and real, even if what you're talking about is riding a dragon through an ancient castle, or living at the bottom of the sea, or - getting into a car crash. But not every sentence needs to be this way.

For the author of The Gargoyle, every sentence is a 'colourful' one, packed full of metaphors and similies - even when he doesn't need them. His constant over-use of descriptive imagery is too much.

Plus, it became clear in the first five pages (as far as I got before I had to put it down)...well, a car flipping through the air as it careens off a mountain road and down into a ravine does not do yoga, no matter how unholy, and even if it did, it wouldn't be screeching as it did it. Scraping the old barrel bottom before the end of the first chapter...I'd hate to see what he'd come up with later.

Now, tastes being hard to account for and all that, I'm not going to suggest that no one read it. You might just like it, which is just fine. Whatever. Personally, I prefer subtlety when it comes to...well, everything. I don't need to know every detail about what it felt like to have your toes cut off, thank you very much, nor do I need a page-long instructional paragraph about deliberately charring my flesh on a stove element so I would know what it felt like to almost die by immolation. I'll pass. But if that's your thing...then whatever.

We returned the book to its shelf, and my boyfriend got his $21 back - a win/win all around.


E said...

I approve.

If the book's that hard to wade through in the beginning, then it's not worth struggling through the rest. See, I decided not to read it when the very first review I read for it called it, and I quote, "Twilight for adults". Perhaps I made the right decision, yes?

Although..."unholy yoga". I like that. Maybe I'll use it in my purple-prose-overflowing gothic vamp tragedy.

"Unholy yoga".


Rhiannon said...

Seriously. It's written in first person too, which makes it even more stupid.

Oh...OH! At one point, he actually broke the 'fourth wall' and said "dear readers"...!

In some ways, books that bad make me happy...because if they can get published...


"Twilight for Adults", eh? Oh man.