Friday, September 30, 2011

There are no rules

I'm on an interesting reading binge right now, which started with the second book in Game of Thrones series and then moved to The Passage.

I'm loving the Passage, to the point where there have been evenings when I should have been sleeping and instead, I've been reading compulsively. What the book does really, really well is create sympathy for the main characters, you really, really care about them and how they survive the catastrophic happenings in the horrific world the author has created. It's a book that reminds me a lot of Stephen King's earlier works, and the comparison has been made in almost every review I've read of the book.

But largely I find the book works almost in spite of itself. It's huge, and a little disjointed. We get backstories on a lot of the characters. Even characters that have only minimal pov's, and POV's of characters that are minor elements and more backstories that add very, very little to the plot, but because the central storyline is so tense and because we care so much about the two central characters in the first section and a few more in the second section (it's hard to describe this book without giving away spoilers, so apologies for the vague sentences) I'm drawn through.

As a genre writer, I'm careful to ensure that backstory is crucial to both plot and character and that POV is for important characters, but when you have a storyline as compulsively readable as the Passage and a little girl in danger, and it's as tense as this book, I'll read past the flaws and just enjoy, perhaps skipping a few paragraphs here and there.

And I guess we come back to a rule my critique group decided upon, which is, when a scene/chapter is engaging and tense and readable, there are no rules.

8 comments:

Stephanie Doyle said...

Great post Sinead - if you just write the *bleep* out of it- you can do anything you want.

Eileen said...

OMG! I just started The Passage! I'm confused as hell, but damn is it well-written. The prose is just yummy.

Who was that guy in the jungle? What's up with the bats? Where'd that little girl's mother go? I'm so confused, but I'm enjoying it.

Sinead M said...

Eileen, I know the start is so strange and the mom, while sympathetic, has no real part in the story... so not sure why any of that is in there, but I read it and cared about her, so I guess that's why.

I should have counted POV's..... I think they add up to over ten... in the first few chapters alone.

Maureen McGowan said...

I've been meaning to read The Passage for ages. I think I might have it (or a sample) on my Kindle. So many things on my TBR pile.

I also just started The Night Circus and I'm not that far in yet, (had to stop to do some crit stuff), but it comes to mind both in relation to this "no rules" post and Eileen's omniscient POV post... That wasn't the book you were reading was it, Eileen?

Eileen said...

Nope. I was whining about The Little Book.

It's all a little disjointed, but I'm feeling trusting that he's going to bring it all together for me somehow. I was a little confused about what time period we were in, too, but the writing is so lovely and clean, but still descriptive and evocative that I'm willing to ride with it. Of course, I only just started. We'll see how I feel another 100 or 200 pages in!

Sinead M said...

He does bring it together.... and the ends a storyline abruptly... that part might frustrate you...

I'm trying not to give away any spoilers, but am interested to see how you feel about the book in another 100 pages..

Eileen said...

I'll totally keep you posted.

Karen Whiddon said...

I'm interested to see how you all feel about it when you finish it. Like you, I couldn't put it down. I will buy the next book the second it comes out.

But the ending. Oy.

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