Saturday, May 30, 2009

Book Reviews (Sort of): Paradise Island, The New Mars, and The News Mars (A Family Vacation) by John L. Manning, Jr.

This review will be brief for a specific reason: I couldn't even get past page two on any of these books, and therefore have only a few negative things to say about these works. All three of these novels by John L. Manning, Jr. are a prime example of why self-publishing gets the negative attention that it does. These are utterly atrocious. I know this is going to sound mean and purely negative, but there isn't anything good to say about these works, except that perhaps the covers are not as bad as they could be. But perhaps I should get into what the problem actually is: Manning cannot write worth a damn. I don't mean that his prose has a few flaws here or there, or that there are typos (even though there are some); I mean that Manning actually cannot write and that each of these texts is a monument of writing mistakes. The best way to do this without getting too long-winded is to have a list, so here goes: •Manning cannot decide what tense he wants to write in at any point in his prose. One sentence will include present and past tense, randomly inserted, and others will jump back and forth. •Every character is German. How do I know? Because Manning constantly has his characters saying "yah" over and over. I don't have a problem with German characters, but why would you have "yah" when "yeah" is the more appropriate term? And if they're German, then just say so... •Manning cannot write a coherent sentence and the prose is all over the place. It's hard to describe how bad it is, to be honest, but trust me when I say that these novels would tie for 2nd place in the Worst Prose in the World contest. •There are typos, some of which are ridiculous, such as having "waited" instead of "weighted," when only moments before the author used the correct term. •The Mars books have racing cars called Pods, which, to be fair, wouldn't be a problem if these were written thirty years before The Phantom Menace, but are completely ridiculous in a world where "pod-racing" is pretty much synonymous with Star Wars. You could have called it "buggy racing" or a dozen of other things that would make more sense. •Stilted dialogue. People really don't talk like that, unless English is their second language, in which case that should be indicated. •Poor description. I have no sense of what Manning is trying to convey, because the prose is not only terrible, but lacks any decent description. •Mostly ham-fisted plotting. The first chapter of The New Mars contains absolutely no conflict whatsoever, despite the fact that there's supposed to be a big "pod" race coming up. But, to be fair, I don't know if the plot gets more interesting later in the book, because I couldn't read more than chapter one. There are certainly other reasons why I gave up on these books, but I think this will suffice. Again, I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just pointing out the harsh reality that these are simply some of the worst books I have ever attempted to read. I know it's controversial to write a review if you haven't finished the book, but if a book is written so poorly, so horribly that you want to literally chuck it across the room, then there's really no point reading on, now is there? That's all I have to say. Feel free to knock me down if you think I'm being unreasonable.

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