Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Review: Greywalker

Let me preface this review by saying I like light fiction. I like silly action movies and detective novels. I have a great life now, but like lots of people I had a childhood filled with too much drama so I tend to avoid it in my entertainment; though I will succumb to a good Scorsese film now and then. Greywalker by Kat Richardson definitely fits into the light fiction category. It's a book I picked up because I liked the idea behind it. Unfortunately, the best thing going for the book is its description. The book attempts to be a paranormal-detective novel, as opposed to the ever popular paranormal-romances. The basic story is about a private detective named Harper Blaine. The book actually opens quite well with a scene in which Harper is attacked and severely injured-- enough so that she is clinically dead for a couple of minutes and then revived. Once she begins to recover from her injuries Blaine begins to see strange things that she attributes to trauma and vertigo from the attack. She later finds out that her brief death has opened a doorway between worlds and that she is now something called a Greywalker; one who can see and interact with The Grey. One of the main problems I have with the book is that The Grey is never sufficiently defined. It is supposed to be another world that overlaps ours but I am never really clear on the concept. For example, Harper discovers that vampires exist, supposedly through her connection to The Grey. But vampires live in the corporeal world and their ties to The Grey are not really explained. It appears that some vampires can touch The Grey and manipulate it but I have no idea why or how. One thing I kept waiting for was for Harper to fully enter The Grey and explore it so that the reader might begin to understand what Richardson was aiming for, but it never happens. The other thing that bothered me about the book was that it was just too busy. My favorite detective novels are by John Sandford and I think he had kind of spoiled me for the genre. One thing Sandford gets that I think Richardson could learn from is keeping the story straightforward. This isn't to suggest that a book can't have a complex plot, but too many elements can make it confusing and unconvincing. And have you ever read a book where you feel like you don't really understand the explanations that are given? That's kind of how I felt here. There are personal attacks on the main character and break-in's to her home and office that are never explained. We are told that another character is responsible, but not why. It's kind of maddening. I just couldn't help but wanting to rewrite this book as I went along. The main idea has a lot of potential. I would have loved to see an author explore the religious and/or spiritual ramifications of another world overlapping our own. The existence of magic, vampires, witches and so on in the everyday world could be very interesting to explore, but it's only dealt with on a very superficial level. The character development is also uneven. Harper is usually likable, but not always. I actually like that in a protagonist, but in this case I have no idea why. There is really no background written into the book on her at all. Her vague love interest has more of a history. The book isn't horrible. There are moments-- glimpses of good ideas. Occasionally the dialogue is good, though at other times it is flat and unrealistic. I do believe this is Richardson's first book and I wonder if it was rushed to publication to try to capitalize on the paranormal craze. Well, I did buy it. I can't say I'd recommend it though I do hope that Richardson improves on the idea in the future. If subsequent books in the series do get good reviews I would be willing to read them; though I think I'll wait until my local library gets a copy rather than pay for it. And isn't it kind of comical that I am giving a book a fairly negative review after my earlier rant about Harriet Klausner? I swear, this is not deliberate. Really. Seriously, read the book and tell me if you disagree. I bet you won't. Okay, now I'm getting insecure..... ;)

9 comments:

DesLily said...

don't you just hate it when you BUY a book and then don't really enjoy it?!..

Angela/SciFiChick said...

I agree that the descriptions of the Gray were... gray. And confusing. But otherwise, I loved the book. I reviewed it a little while back, and see that you commented there. Sorry that you didn't like it though.
I promise I'm not a Harriet though. LOL.. I read an ARC last month that I absolutely hated. And I don't think I'll even bother writing a review simply because I don't want to point anyone in that direction.

SQT said...

I didn't hate the book. I did magage to finish it and not chuck it across the room.

But when I tried to think of how to review it, all I could think of was what I'd change about it. There just wasn't much I'd keep.

I think this was released too soon. I needs to be tightened up and re-edited. It's dissappointing becaue's there a good idea in there waiting to be let out.

Angela/SciFiChick said...

Maybe our concerns will be tweaked by the next book... we can cross our fingers.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Sounds a good story on the theme of 'Flatliners' and 'White Noise'.

SolShine7 said...

Isn't it annoying when the cover and the concept look REALLY good but end up being a letdown?

Oh well.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

hi sqt! just popping in to say "hey sqt!"

smiles, bee

Stewart Sternberg said...

Hey, I'm reading Game of Thrones. I just want to say that while I am enjoying reading it, it's nothing more than a daytime drama. It's rich in character development, it has a wonderful bit of worldbuilding. It could be brilliant...but it doesn't have a story. No plot. Well...okay, there's a whisper of a plot, but nothing electric. Nothing that moves and grabs the reader.

I know this has nothing to do with the book in question here, but since we're talking about books, and since it's a book we already talked about on this blog, and since I badmouthed the author for something he said in an interview, I just wanted to do a little follow up here. Going to my corner now and behave.

SQT said...

Stewart, I think I like it better when you misbehave.

I liked Game of Thrones too. I just have no idea how they're going to take so much material and make it into a mini-series. Or is it a full time series? It does have all the material for a good daytime drama, so maybe that's what they have in mind.