Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Swipe, Sneak, & Storm: A Collective Review, Part 2

The Craft: For me, Swipe, Sneak, and Storm turned out to be unusually difficult trio of book to get through.

The trouble began with book one, Swipe. While the premise of the book—indeed, the series—captured my interest, while the world is vividly drawn, while the society created makes all-too-scary sense, I had troubles getting caught up into the story itself. I slog through page after page, telling myself it would improve the further I got in. But even at seventy-plus pages I found myself checking to see how many pages remained, only to groan when I realized how far I had to go yet.

It wasn’t because tension lacked. That abounded. There were plenty of personal stakes too. But I simply didn’t care, because I didn’t care about the characters.

While I’ve encountered novels in the past where I’ve struggled to attach to the main character, I usually can find a character somewhere I liked, one who caused the threats actually seem threatening because I was worried about him or her. Not so with Swipe. I didn’t find one single character to attach to, one character I truly liked, one character I wanted to cheer on to the end. It didn’t seem to matter where I turned, all I found were self-serving characters intent only on getting what they wanted no matter the actions which had to be taken. Even Logan’s desire to find his sister and then rescue her, the type of motive which usually brings empathy, seemed motivated more by what he would get out of the rescue than how it would help her.

Add to this an omniscient narrator (a very tricky voice to pull off well), a disjointed storytelling style, a beginning weighted with backstory, and the type of twists that make me feel like the author deceived me, and I could have easily walked away from this series after book one with no regrets. But tour was coming, and so I moved on to Sneak.

Things improved slightly with Sneak. I still didn’t like the characters a whole lot. However, I had invested enough time in them, I was at least curious to see where things would go. The up in tension and tight plotting also helped keep me moving forward, enough that I didn’t keep checking for how many pages were left. So despite a few predictable twists at the end of this book, I started to think there was hope for this series after all.

Then I reached Storm. Once more my distaste for the characters crowded in as I was hit afresh with the fact that the characters were set on doing what they wanted to get what they wanted, whatever it took. It didn’t matter if the characters were protagonists or antagonists, main characters or secondary. I sensed no heroism, no compassion, no true concern or love. I found myself doubting that any of them would choose the good, noble, or right because those things were good, noble, or right. Rather, if they chose them, it was because it suited their purposes.

In short, I felt I could not trust any of the characters. I find it very difficult to like a character I cannot trust on some level.

Then to compound problems, the plot—the one strength of the series thus far—fell apart in Storm, especially in the middle. The main characters lost motivation. They no longer had clear or specific goals, especially Logan. Rather they drifted from one problem to another, one crisis to the next, reacting more than doing. As a result, the plot lost its drive . . . and I lost my interest.


Julie Bihn said...

I hadn't thought about it like that, but you make a good point about the characters. Though I did like a few minor characters, like Erin's parents...maybe because they were change characters, had a goal, and had a noble motivation.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the reader needs to connect to and trust the characters -- one of them, at least. There needs to be a reason to continue reading.

STORM is the only book I've read in the series, and I found it surprisingly easy to follow, considering the fact I knew nothing about the previous events. I had little time to read, so it helped that the writing was solid and didn't make me itch to grab a red pen; I could blitz through the book with ease.

Maybe the spiritual aspects you're looking for will become increasingly present as the story rolls along in Book 4 and beyond.

I'm not the intended audience, and there is a stack of books awaiting reviews, so I will likely not read further, but I'm glad I took a chance on STORM.