[Book Review] There’s a terrified reader down there.

Mike Shepherd – Mutineer [[Did Not Finish]]

(The first of the Kris Longknife series)

Disclaimer: I ended up stopping roughly one-fourth through the novel. I couldn’t do it. I broke.

I am weak.

The Review:

“There’s a terrified child down there.”

That first sentence says,

You want to read me.

By the fifth paragraph, my interest in the terrified child had died down and I was slogging past my first narrative exclamation mark. As the main character, Kris, faces her mission to rescue this child, the reader is hit over the head with the requisite past trauma in the form of flashbacks, the angst of needing to escape the shadow of her family history, and characters that, more often than not, are used as info-dump mouthpieces.

In the character of Kris, the author appears to be trying to create a sympathetic 22-year-old who is running from her past while searching for a semblance of stability. However, as her most painful struggles are internal — tending to consist of cycling through a decade of survivor’s guilt and her crisis about being treated like the poor little rich girl — the attempt to humanize her comes across as a token salute. In the first quarter of the book, the minor conflicts are solved by the superior (flying, computer, political, etc) skills she had gained as a child, or by family members or friends with equally exceptional skill-sets.

I did not see struggle. I did not see growth. I did not finish the book.

That first sentence is the high point of the 100 pages I read (out of 400). Now, the first fourth of the book does have at least one redeeming quality. Its strength, from what I could see, is world-building. The author easily inserts references to futuristic technologies and isn’t shy of alluding to fictional events and objects to set the atmosphere. But it wasn’t enough to keep me reading.

Because I did not finish the book, I can make no generalizations about its overall quality. Instead, I will finish with a quick Q&A. All quotes are, of course, the legal intellectual property of Kris Longknife.

Q: How would you characterize the book?

A: The approaches to the kidnappers’ hideout were long, difficult, dangerous—and booby-trapped!

Q: What about the characterization? Plot? 

A: “Damn it, where is everything?” Kris exploded.

Q: Do you have any final closing thoughts for the readers?

A: “We can’t bother them!” Kris shouted, gulping hard.

And writers? This is what happens when you name your character Kris Longknife.

Television fans, is it just me or is there an eerie resemblance?

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