Top critical review
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This story comes to a grinding halt without even dropping down through the gears first!
on 7 May 2015
WHAT!! What happened there? Mid-line this book just finished, leaving the reader feeling they’ve been ripped off. It just stopped mid-action.
This was always going to be a 3 Star, but after ripping the reader off like that it’s never going to get more than 1 Star from me, and I certainly won’t be buying Book Two just out of principal because it finished on such a cheap shot. As far as authors are concerned, this is the ultimate sin. Bringing the story to a grinding halt without even dropping down through the gears first. What a scam! I hate that!
I’ve just checked the title and this book is called ‘The Ugly Daughter: A thrilling real life journey to self discovery, riches and spirituality.’ Riches? Spirituality? Where. We finish the book and the little girl, Loan, is poor as a church mouse. And the only spirituality is a few ghosts popping up every now and again.
Now I’ve just read the book description in detail, which I don’t always do, and found the line, “The second volume of the story, not yet released, is in production and has legal implications that have to be carefully managed. It covers their arrival in Australia and the challenges and nightmares that they faced there.” So I guess it’s there, in the small print. This is only half a book. You’ve got one story in two separate books, so you have to pay twice as much. I am really pissed off!
Dictionary.com describes a “series or group of plays, novels, operas, etc., that, although INDIVIDUALLY COMPLETE, are closely related in theme, sequence, or the like.” In ancient Greece, you’d have a series of COMPLETE and usually related tragedies.” And there’s the rub, for when you pick up a book you expect it to be complete of itself.
This isn’t. What a scam.
The Ugly Daughter could be such a fascinating story; it IS a fascinating story, it describes a world that most Europeans, North Americans and Australians know absolutely nothing about, life in Vietnam in the 1970s for a dysfunctional and penurious family, destined to become Vietnamese Boat People.
Julia Legion’s parents are ferocious in their violence towards each other, and Loan and her sisters were often caught in the crossfire.
However, and this is a BIG however, Legion writes about her life in such dispassionate terms that it becomes almost like reading a little girl’s diary. Events that would traumatise most children, possibly for life, are described in rather abstract and detached terms. For example, here’s a brief extract;
“ …. A beautiful, gentle and pale young girl of sixteen or so sat. She had long shiny hair down to her waist. Next to her was another girl of about twelve, clutching the older girl’s arms. The older girl addressed Bai in this manner.
“Dear Uncle, we were being punished by the North Vietnamese. They took all our possessions and they sent our parents to death camps. My sister and I had no choice but to leave …...”
“Bai’s reply came in the form of three rapid deafening gunshots from his gun as he shot the girls at close range. I watched in shock as part of the older girl’s bloodied head landed on my feet. The two girl’s dark hair was matted with blood as they died in each other’s arms.”
Well that’s pretty dramatic, and although Loan is distraught and wipes the blood off her feet before running home as fast as she can, we move quickly on to another story about her father helping injured people. And just before that tale we hear of hundreds of people being shot as they went down the river on an overcrowded riverboat whist Loan and her family ate lunch by the shore. Loan ran to the pier and slipped onto the boat. And this is all written in such a detached and deadpan manner.
Now I could put this down to poor writing skills except for the fact that to assist her in authoring this book Legion actually hired a creative writing teacher who had “published several books on writing.” With such material available to her, you’d think a creative writing instructor would be able to really breathe life into these salient and arresting scenes, for there is much in the book that is appaling, monstrous and shocking, yet even with professional assistance Legion still fails to create emotion in the reader. And that’s how I read this book; interested but detached. It’s a crime that what should be such an absorbing tale leaves the reader feeling impassive.
Ah, who cares? 1 Star for ripping the reader off!