This book is like sitting through an interesting college course in writing. My bookcases and hard-drive is full of books on writing. I have to say that this book has been the most helpful so far. Sol Stein made me think of P.O.V. and suspense differently. I highly recommend this book to anyone that would like to improve their writing. I do admit that at times it is hard to swallow Stein's ego, the worst for me is the "Thou Shall" stuff at the end, but the techniques he teaches are priceless.
I bought this book because I was told it was like "Harry Potter for Adults"... ummm NO! The author tried to be the "Adult Harry Potter" but failed horribly. But hey, I could get over being misled if it was a good story. I could even overlook the highjacking ideas from Harry Potter and Narnia IF IT WAS A GOOD STORY. This book goes wrong in every way.
As a beginning writer I have heard the advice "show don't tell" over and over again but this book has made the meaning to that advice abundantly clear. The narrator tells the reader everything. I was not able to connect with any of the characters because I really never got to see them in action.
I spent a lot of time re-listening to parts because I just knew I must have missed something only to find out I didn't miss anything. Things just randomly happened with no lead up or explanation. One of MANY examples is in chapter 6 when, out of the blue, Penny comes in and punches Quentin. By the time the narrator TELLS the reader Penny's jealously caused the seemingly random violence the characters are over it. Once again no lead up, foreshadowing, or mentioning of Penny's jealous beforehand.
The book has weird pace. The narrator spends 20 to 30 minutes on the testing for Quentin's Magical Discipline only to be tell the reader Quentin will have to wait until next year, "people put too much emphasis on that kind of thing". The next scene the narrator TELLS the reader that summer vacation drags and spends maybe one to two minutes telling the reader nothing happens and it is Fall and back to school. The story jumps though time without reason or any explanation. Its like the author didn't have a story for time periods so he just skip them and left big gaping holes in the characters lives.
When the students use their magic it does not feel genuine. They are new students yet somehow Quentin is able to figure out how to use everyone's magic without the benefit of a book or teacher. He just kind of comes up with what to do and boom, it is right! The reasons for the students using magic are arbitrary.
I have not listen to it all but so far the story really isn't going anywhere. Things are happening but it really doesn't seem to be connecting or propelling the story in any way.
Lastly, the best part of listening to this book so far was my 16 year old son's reaction to the profanity. In some stories profanity can be used as a powerful tool but sadly not in this story. The profanity comes off as an "oh, look at me I'm cussing! Aren't you shocked? Oh, Oh let me put the F-bomb or GD here.... Isn't this so adult?" kind of tactic. Every time the narrator used profanity my son laughed so hard because it was so out of place, stiff, and engineered.
How did New York Times name this book one of the best books in 2009? I wonder if there may have been some greasing of the palms to get that kind of review. This book is horrible. I'm actually thinking about using it as a writing exercise. I believe this would be a great exercise for any writer to rewrite some scenes in this book using things like plot, subplots, a theme, foreshadowing, and show don't tell advice. Unless you are going to use it as a writing exercise please don't waste your money on this one.
First, let me say there are very good nuggets of information in this book. The problem is that the nuggets are hard to hear over her huge ego. 90% of this book is her tearing apart other people's work and never giving any examples of how it could have been done better. The book also gets political from out of nowhere. I'm sure there is good information here, but I struggled to finish listening to this book. If you want to listen to a book on techniques and strategies, I would suggest listening to Stein in Writing. Yes, Sol Stein has the huge ego too, but at least he gives examples to help the listener.
Am I missing something? When I started this book it felt like I started in the middle of a story not the beginning. I tried to listen in the hopes it would get better, but I found myself repeatedly checking to make sure I was listening to book one part one. I ended up giving up on the story
At first I wasn't sure if I would like this story. Soon after I started listening I fell in love with this book. So many inspirational books do not deal with real world situations. This book did it wonderfully. It truly is a must read.
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