Top critical review
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Strong ideas but let down on narrative
on 27 May 2010
Graham Hancock is a best selling author of numerous non-fiction books investigating the premise of a lost or forgotten civilisation, or lost or forgotten knowledge of our ancient ancestors. "Entangled" is a fictional book that is inspired by his investigations during his research for his book "Supernatural".
The story premise is intriguing, and there are some great ideas at the foundation of it all, however the execution of the narrative often distracts from the overall story. Set in two time periods, the author for the most part alternates chapter by chapter between the two periods, with a handful of exceptions where one time period in a chapter is followed immediately by a second chapter set in the same time period. With each chapter being reasonably short (average of 4-5 pages), this has the effect of disrupting the momentum of the story. I appreciate that this may have been necessary in certain parts, but its use is a little over-done in my opinion, and is overly disruptive to the narrative. Just as you are settling down with one protagonist in one time, you are dislocated from that world to re-familiarise yourself with the other protagonist in the other time. There also felt like there was little to make me want to read the next chapter, such as mini-cliff-hangers for example. Whilst others found the book un-put-downable, I had trouble picking it back up at times.
I felt the characterisation of the protagonists were lacking in dimension, with secondary characters being killed off too readily when it seemed they had served their purpose for the story. I also found that the modern age characters a little unrealistic, but the stone-age characters better scripted. The author uses strong adult language in many instances which again I though detracted from the story. I am in no way a prude, but the insertion of such language felt artificial and shoe-horned in, and at times unnecessary.
Overall, it is not a bad read, considering that this is the first novel from a non-fiction author. The strength of the underlying story carries the book. Due to the structure of the book, I found the first hundred pages a bit of a slog, and had difficultly getting into the book. Happily I persevered and the narrative does strengthen through the middle of the book, but falls away again towards the end. Based upon this, I would give the story premise and ideas five stars, but the execution of the story only three stars. Had the narrative remained as it did through the middle of the book to the end, I would have rated this four stars.
As you will see, others have raved about this book, and if you buy it, you may too. It is the first in series (which you will realise by the ending), and I hope the author improves the narative for the second instalment, and gives the story the vehicle it deserves.