Friday, April 20, 2007

Where are the editors?

I'm currently flying through Flora Segunda (another book with a long subtitle: being the magickal mishaps of a girl of spirit, her glass-gazing sidekick, two ominous but[l]ers (one blue), a house with eleven thousand rooms, and a red dog [is that missing 'l' in butler a typo from MCL cataloguers or Ingram?]). I'm flying through it because I've had lots of time this week in the car and in the evenings to listen to it. It's one of those long (11+ hours) fantasies, but ... well, suffice it to say, that it's no Harry Potter ... nor Sea of Trolls, nor Mortal Engines, nor Airborn (to name a few of my favorites). Last night, I confess, I couldn't remember from the car to the house why the two adventuring characters, Flora and her friend Udo, found themselves in the house with the blue but[l]er.

And, I blame the editing ... or the lack thereof. The author, Ysabeau S. Wilce (a pleasant-sounding mouthful), pretty much threw in everything she could think of into her fantastical world, and it's a complete mishmash. Plot strands are created and quickly discarded so we can move on to the next set piece. The world hasn't been created with any consistency -- magic, characters, settings are just plopped in to serve the next cool thing she thought she'd write about. The author indulges in the easy joke (potties come up frequently) because (I think) she doesn't trust her world to keep her readers interested. Why didn't her editor give her a strong talking to? I think it's another example of publishers anxious to feed at the Harry Potter trough, publishers producing a bunch of second-rate stuff.

So, while listening to all this stuff , it's much harder to follow the story. Where are we? Why are we doing that? What about that thing that just happened? The narrator is Danielle Ferland -- who I really liked reading the realistic novel Perfect last year -- and her slightly nasal, little girl delivery isn't working here. She seems petulant about everything in the novel; it's hard to figure out what's important. She also subscribes to the stuffed nose interpretation of male characters -- a flaw of many female narrators.

One of my listening colleagues had this book "assigned" to her, and she wrote a pretty scathing commentary. I'll wrap up the story in the next day or so, and I'll be inclined to agree with her.

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