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Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Little intrigue and less excitement, 8 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: The Map of Time (Kindle Edition)
This is a novel in three parts, with some recurring characters. It is in love with a steampunky aesthetic, but neither the writing nor the story live up to the novel's ambitions.

The first story is that of Andrew, a young man whose one true love was a prostitute who was murdered by Jack the Ripper. Just in time to stop him from killing himself, his friend convinces him that he may be able to travel in time to save her life.

The second story is that of Tom Blunt, a hires muscle / actor working for a conman, and of the girl who falls in impossible love with him.

The final story is that of HG Wells, science fiction author, investigating some murders that may or may not have been committed by time travellers.

HG Wells is one of the recurring characters, and his novel The Time Machine is referenced many times as one of the engines of the story: it set the notion of time travel in motion.

Well, that's about enough about the plot. Let's talk about the style: it is poor and bland. Not only bland, but amateurish. Every character is a ruminating storyteller, and each character who walks on stage immediately proceeds to tell a backlog of (true or fictitious) life story / previous adventures, delivered in huge infodumps that lack any redeeming features. Yawn. Not only are they all the same in that regard: none of them are particularly interesting or pleasant to be around. Andrew is a self-pitying spoilt rich kid. The girl is not the spunky free spirit the author tries to describe her as, but a woefully naive silly romance-obsessed spoilt person. Tom Blunt is not a flawed hero, but a nasty manipulative bastard. HG Wells is a detached, boring man. The list goes on. One after another, we meet characters who are not very interesting, but constantly desperate to narrate neverending chunks of plot in the blandest tone imaginable.

The plot, meanwhile, delivers little intrigue and less excitement. It clunks from scene to scene, thinking it is clever and toying with reader expectations, but ultimately it is just forced, bland, uninspiring and disappointing stuff. Then, of course, it tries to deliver on the expectations that it intentionally frustrated early on. Woeful.

Despite all that, I finished the book, never quite sure why. I think it was just about easy enough to read, and I got reasonably far into the story quite quickly, so that I ploughed on by sheer stubborn inertia.

A few final points about the narrative voice: The author telling the story cannot resist addressing the reader. Fine. This can work, if done very well. Here, it fails spectacularly. Highlighting not only that the narrator is omniscient, but drawing attention to shifts in perspective, flashbacks, and other awkward writerly choices, the voice points out that it is telling the story in such clumsy ways, only to say things like "allow me to switch perspective here, but I think the story is more interesting if..." - Ugh. It is painfully conscious of the flaws in the writing, and tries to turn them into a feature, rather than a flaw, by pointing them out. That is not clever. That is shoddy writing, shoddily bridged. In case you wonder while reading whether there is any twist (is the voice God? The devil?), let me assure you, the voice is irrelevant. It is not a character, not God, not the devil. It is merely the writer.

An awful novel, really.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Apr 2012 21:48:21 BDT
Anna Clare says:
COMPLETELY agree! I am writing my review now and it is really hard to put into words why this novel was just so utterly awful but you have managed it! Great review! x

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Oct 2014 11:34:31 GMT
Here here, this review somes up the book so well

I've ploughed through -wish I hadn't bothered
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