It’s only February and I’m falling a bit behind on my book-a-week goal, although I have been reading as time allows. I’ve recently signed on for a new venture (news for another post) and have been working to finish crossing Ts and dotting Is to get it off the ground.
My latest read, Best Staged Plans, wasn’t a bad book, but it also didn’t contain a lot of substance. If I were to grade everything (story, dialogue, voice, etc.,) it would fall around the average mark.
First, it was a shorter book, which in all honesty was part of the reason I chose it (as I said, I’ve been busy). But, it could have been shorter. For example, there was a page and a half of description on what the inside of the post office looked like. There was also a very long passage on how to roll and pack clothing. Neither did diddly to advance the story and weren’t integral parts of the book. They were what I call filler pages.
Second, I found some of Claire’s phrasing and narrative fresh and snappy while I found other parts trite, having a forced feel. An example many will relate to: If you’ve ever watched the ENTIRE series of Roseanne, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it took a season or two before the comedic timing began to meld. In the first couple seasons, the jokes felt forced. They delivered the punchlines too loudly and laughed too hard at their own jokes. Even though the jokes were original, they felt forced. By the third season, even the kids had caught the hang of it and it began to work, to feel like a real family interacting. The jokes became as funny as they were intended to be. This book never made it past the second season.
Next, I can’t say I connected with any of the characters, but especially the main character, Sandy. They weren’t horrible, but weren’t believable either.
I think if you pick apart and analyze, you might find a life lesson or two somewhere in the mix of poorly executed jokes and filler, but don’t look for depth. You won’t find it.
Overall, not a bad read. Light fiction. IMO – Like Must Love Dogs, would be more enjoyable as a movie than a book. Not bad, not great – a solid 3-star read.
One. Last. Note. There was quite a bit of that (one word sentences for effect) going on. I’m thinking the author is trying to blaze new trails by making One. Word. Sentences. the new exclamation point. You have to give her credit. Every reference book and creative writing teacher will tell you, ‘No more than one exclamation point for every 100,000 words’. She’s found a new way to stress for effect and even if you find it a bit distracting, as I did, it’s original – at least to novel-writing.