|Submitted by Steven Satak |
(Jul 06, 2007)
I will keep this brief. I read the book 'Hammerjack' by Marc Giller and while the vision of the future was interesting, the way it was delivered was not. I found several things 'off', things which stuck out so badly that by the end of the book, I was actually going to email the author. And I did.
Normally, when a book comes up that short in so many vital categories, I give it the toss. But I kept this one. My son asked me about that the other day when he was looking through my bookcase. Why *did* I keep the book "HammerJack" if I'd found so many things wrong with it?
I told him it was a very valuable source of do's and don'ts. Like a mine filled with gems - but the town has been using it as a dump for the past few years, so ya gotta dig and keep a sharp eye out. To wit:
- the book was centered around people for whom I felt no personal connection. None. I wanted to. But at critical moments, they did not behave as normal humans, and so the spell the author was weaving was broken. I have this problem with modern 'horror' movies like
- the characters did not seem to have any real values beyond personal survival - as though death were the greatest evil, and survival in any form, at any price, was the ultimate goal.
- the female assassin was interesting for about three pages. Then she transformed from a person to an event, and for the rest of the book, that's all she was - something unfortunate that happened to other people.
- I found my greatest empathy with the throwaway characters, the ones scheduled to die in less than two thousand words. I am sorry to say I found them most completely human, with pasts and hoped-for futures, shortcomings and in the end, excellence in the face of death itself. I was somewhat shocked that Giller could do so well with the Inspector whose story opened the book, and so poorly with the main characters - who, presumably, we are supposed to like or care enough about to follow to the next book.
The book read like a well-written transcript of a video game. It had no soul. It also (in parts) suffered from the same problem many books in this genre do - it 'told' where it should have 'shown'.
That said, I took quite a bit away from some parts of the book, watching carefully how Giller developed the 'bit' characters and got us to care about them in such a short period of time. I actually felt bad for the poor nurse who died at the hands of the female assassin... ...quite an accomplishment for a character who didn't exist five hundred words before!
This appears to be his first effort; mayhap in future works he will be able to get things in balance.