[ Book Review ] Death, with feeling

I tried, Canaries. I really tried.

I pushed my way through so much boring action, so many quaint appearances by Niccolo Machiavelli, and so much freaking talking, but I have reached my wit’s end with Michael Scott’s The Magician.

Going off my experience with the first book, I should have never tried to read the second. But in this case, my literary death came down to one singular moment, one monumental sentence:

“[Some expletive statement that theothercanary has blocked out for the sake of saving space for more broadway musical lyrics]!” she said, feelingly.

Feelingly. Not ‘with feeling.’ Feelingly.

When I was in graduate school, my main advisor once threatened to torch my thesis because of an overabundance of ‘ly’ words. “They don’t mean anything,” she said. “It’s a lazy-man’s way of avoiding actual descriptive words.”

She was right, of course. Saying things like ‘she walked slowly’ doesn’t really mean much. Slowly compared to what? A turtle? A snail? A Roman god high on pixie sticks? It’s just a word that takes up space without saying anything important at all.

And I have never seen an example more glaring than feelingly. I honestly have no idea what that means. Earnestly? Sadly? Pissedoffedly? This man has spent so much time writing paragraph-blocks of dialogue that he couldn’t spare a few words to at least tell us which emotion it was like?

I’ll spare you an actual review – the book was utterly benign, not bad, but certainly not good. Suffice to say, there are far better things to read out there. Get ye a copy of Artemis Fowl, or maybe The Throne of Fire in preparation for the third Kane Chronicles book.  Stay away from this coal mine.


Ever get run down by a line like this, Canaries?

8 thoughts on “[ Book Review ] Death, with feeling

  1. Eek! That does sound painful. Sometimes, the adverb is okay. Sometimes, its a comfortable cliche that makes reading quicker and brings to mind a well-known image. Most times, it’s not okay, it’s lazy, and it says zip. When browsing through a bookstore, wittling down my stack of twenty books to three, I usually end up putting a book back for one of two reasons. Either A. It’s not gripping or B. It’s got more than two adverbs on the first page and isn’t gripping enough for me to forgive it. You know, I thought the industry was getting so insanely restrictive to the point where you’ll get smacked with a rejection for having an adverb in your query. I had no idea adverb abuse of this magnitude got through anymore.
    Also, I hadn’t known “feelingly” was a word until you wrote this. It doesn’t sound like a word.

    • I must have said it out loud ten times trying to decide whether or not it was a real word. I never get a squiggly line when I type it. But egads, if I had been his editor, I would ahve NEVER let that go through!

      • I’ve read through book 3, The Sorceress, mainly because no matter how painful, I can’t start a series and not finish it. Annoying little bit of OCD that, it is the only reason I’ve read all of the Twilight books which at any other sane moment I would not have even touched.

  2. I would argue there are worse authorial (yep – that’s a word too, much to my surprise) sins that could be committed (I can say with confidence that terrible dialogue, having written my share, leaves the story in ruins), and I personally have nothing against the judicious adverb (“she cooed softly in his ear…” – ooooh). Still, certain details betray a lack of thought and care to the text and its meaning, and “feelingly” feels like no exception. I like to think that if your dialogue is well-crafted, you oughtn’t need a description of how the person is speaking. I’d more or less assume that a sentence full of expletives, capped by an exclamation mark, would be spoken feelingly.

    The comma also seems unnecessary.

    • I was torn on the comma, too. I keep seeing it both ways, so I guess I have to assume it’s a preference thing.

      I agree with the idea that if your dialogue is written properly, you don’t need to take on the emotion at the end. Or if it does need to be done, it should be done via expression/body language. Show don’t tell!

  3. Ugh. I don’t hate adverbs quite so much, but even I can’t see the merit of using “feelingly” as an actual word. UGHHH. Makes me glad that I didn’t even make it past the first book. (It took too long for anything to happen, so I stopped reading pretty early on.)

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