America, what in the name of sweet Eru are you thinking?
This is what you pick to be the best-selling fiction book of the year? This is what you tout and praise? Have you ever READ a book before this one?
I swear, America, your reading tastes leave something to be desired. I guess the collection of extremely short chapters suits your particular brand of ADD. Oh, and you wouldn’t want to deal with character progression—it would probably just confuse you. If the characters grow and change during the course of the book, then how will you know which ones you like?
What? Oh, you think THAT’S “character progression”? Yes, I guess one of the characters DOES change her view of pagan fertility rites during the course of the novel. In a similar vein, I guess characters from Jack Chick’s tracts have character progression—they’re presented with some gross, obvious flaw that can be brilliantly rectified by the lucid logic of the narrative. Hum, yes. Brilliant characters. It does get a little messy when their stuffing falls out all over the floor, though.
And plotting. Well, I guess you’re accustomed to television—you wouldn’t want your plots to be so complex that they couldn’t fit into a half-hour program. Foreshadowing is your enemy—it’s much easier if events just kind of happen, that way you don’t have to worry that you’re missing something. Everything is given to you in a simple, if hastily organized, package.
I guess I just expected more of you. Honestly, if you were going to choose a new love this year, you could have at least picked a GOOD example of genre fiction. There are dozens of handsome young mysteries out there that are clever and unique. Why pick this, this thing with that false smile pasted on its cover? “A mind-bending code hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci,” he claims. A nice tag-line, even if the book never refers to “codes” in Da Vinci’s works, instead relying on a collection of juvenile riddles. A five-letter long word involving Isaac Newton, an “orb,” and a “fruit”? Gee, I wonder what THAT could be.
Oh, right. I forgot. You don’t want to have to think.
Well, please tell your new love that I do not approve of him. Genius in plotting is giving us the clues ahead of time, then putting them together in a way we hadn’t quite grasped. Absurdity in plotting is holding back all of those clues, dangling them before us like a self-satisfied older brother, amused by the fact that HE knows the answer and we don’t. When he finally gives the answers to us, we’re left wondering why exactly we wanted them in the first place.
But, we’re not supposed to bother with that, right? Your love is all about his political message. I know, I know. You want an agenda, not a true work of fiction. Never mind that he fabricates and misleads, never mind that he doesn’t even bother to give a protagonist who genuinely sees things differently from the others. It’s all okay. This book MEANS something.
This is what you choose. Go back to your TV Guide, America. You’re fouling things up for the rest of us.
EUOL, aka Brandon Sanderson, writes epic fantasies for Tor Books. Find his column on TWG on Fridays, where he will discuss whatever random topic pops into his head—including, but not limited to, reviews, articles about writing, and con reports.