Thursday, 15 March 2012
Didn’t Finish It… ‘Fated’ – Benedict Jacka (Orbit)
As much as I try to finish everything I read it’s not going to happen all the time, law of averages and all that. Some books are just plain atrocious (and there are a few of them covered here in this blog) and others have the misfortune to be the wrong book at the wrong time. Other books are out down for other reasons entirely, books like Benedict Jacka’s ‘Fated’ for instance. Here, have some blurb…
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teenagers mingle, and where you can get your ears pierced and your shoulder tattooed while eating sushi washed down with a can of super strength beer. In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you might find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won't sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you're looking for, he might just be able to help. That's if he's not too busy avoiding his apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a highly toxic Relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.
That looks like a great blurb doesn’t it? Well, the book itself may work for you but it didn’t for me.
I knew something was up when Jacka’s Camden didn’t come across nearly as cool and lively as the real thing. I don’t spend nearly as much time there as I’d like to but I love Camden and this just wasn’t Camden, not for me. It just felt a little lifeless.
I could have dealt with that though, and kept going, if it hadn’t been for the big issue that really turned me off reading any further.
The way I see it, you have to be very careful if you pay homage to another writer’s work in your own piece. If you’re not careful then you’ll find yourself writing in that writers world rather than your own; you really want to avoid this if you’re writing your debut novel and want to get readers involved in your own world.
For my money, Jacka fell foul of this trap when he paid a little homage to one Jim Butcher and his ‘Harry Dresden’ books. Butcher’s world is larger, and more established, so one almost throwaway sentence had the unwelcome effect of making Jacka’s world a part of Butchers.
So that was the sense of identity well and truly gone then and things started feel more and more like a ‘Dresden’ novel after that. It was at that point where I realised that if I wanted to read a ‘Dresden’ book then I may as well read one of the originals instead of ‘Fated’. About three seconds after that I put ‘Fated’ down and haven’t picked it up since. Fans of Harry Dresden might like it but not me, not this time.
If anyone here has read ‘Fated’ and disagrees with me please feel free to leave a comment in the usual place. This is how I feel about the book at the moment but I’m willing to be talked round :o)