Mixed feelings on this. Would love your take on it if you read it.
The Finisher by David Baldacci For aspiring writers, obtain a hard copy and edit the omniscient recaps and Mary Sue* angst out. Then read the flow to see an immediate improvement to the writing style. What were the editors and Baldacci thinking?
Starts slow; ends strong. Labelled as a stand-alone but feels like the first in a series. NOT FOR THE CRIME FICTION BALDACCI FANS. BE FOREWARNED. THE TITLE IS NOT AN ASSASSIN.
As a writer, I'm warned against so many things--which Baldacci (if this is truly Baldacci) breaks in this fantasy. Something the crime fiction writer Baldacci would never do. First, the MC begins weak and spends too much time mentally verbalizing her situation when the action and dialog clearly are sufficient. This is so agonizingly repeated and time consuming that I twice put the book down. The editors weren't tough enough, didn't bother, or the author wasn't up to the task. Crime fiction writer Baldacci knows better. So what the heck is going on? This was fixable, but wasn't.
The main character goes around obtaining magical items like a common & boring RPG game--all with too much Mary Sue angst. Yes, she grows into the power she obtains, but she falls and trips into them. She is constantly agonizing over her interior conflicts--that are no brainers for even the weak minded. Then you're hit once again by the ever yet repeated omniscient character voice, "If I had known this would happen, I wouldn't..." Then you live through what is going to happen. Complete novice writer foolishness. So frustratingly irritating. This was fixable, but wasn't.
The world is rich and unique but full of inconsistencies and the main character is too easily provided luck happenstance which is basic scifi/fantasy 'never do' rules. Again a clear sign of weak writing. Again, this was fixable, but wasn't.
"Yet, you give it a four star? What's with that, Meg?" you ask. Because it was fixable and the underlying story is worth the read and the frustration. Even I, an inept editor at best, could have made this worlds better with more tightening. In fact, I heard this rather than read the book. If I'd had the hard copy, I would have crossed off every foolish recap out of sheer anger.
The ending redeems it. The one on one Hunger Game-y type ending works although the reason for it being in the book is not explained, nor why this year--of all the world's history--adds in its 2nd class women to fight. At least it wasn't on a platter and she had to go through some clever plot twists to be included as a younger. (Redeeming feature.)
Why would Baldacci chose to write this barely disguised RPG? Does he have a young daughter ready to take off on her own? If so, okay. I see where it came from. It provides moral guidance and advice. It has super tension in the last 2/3s proving that the author has what it takes to sustain an excellent story, but will he do so?(Again, Baldacci has the proven skill...) Was this a case of a major adult writer saying, "It's just young adult?" I can't believe that David Baldacci would do that. This is simply too different from his other works--and more importantly an entirely DIFFERENT WRITING STYLE AND VOICE--so different that I again ask, "Did Baldacci really write this?"
If it had been properly edited, this could be a new Harry Potter--even a prequel to Harry Potter. The world does have incredible similarities. (Could it be there was another writer? I don't know and my mind can spin conspiracies.) I hope, if there are further books, the editors will actually put their hearts into helping Baldacci raise the bar considerably.
It also gets 4 stars for aspiring writers. Take your pen and get busy editing a hard copy and see how you can easily elevate, so damn easily, raising it to 5 stars.
*Unfamiliar with the term Mary Sue? Google it. I've included Priscella Spencer's Harry Potter's list that you'll need to modify. You'll have to move down to sections 3, 4, & 6 for the obvious ones here.
DON'T take me wrong. An author includes herself in every character, but the heavy interior angst in this book screams self-insertion--the author providing a point of view that is the character's.
- May - 2016: Upcoming, I'll be participating in Desert Sleuth's Donald Maass Workshop. I'm afraid it sold out months ago, but if you have questions, contact me.Apr - 2016: A 2nd Kami Short will release in the Malice Domestic anthology in Bethesda MD. I'll also be moderating a panel with authors Karen Pullen, Sue Cox, and Gretchen Archer. Don't miss the fun! I'll have special edition signed copies of the 1st Kami Short from the SinC - Desert Sleuth anthology to hand out for free.Apr - 2016: An adult short story, Big Horn Mountain Carnivores, was selected as the adult category winner in the Tempe Community Writing Contest loosely associated with Arizona State University! The e- & print release where I read a portion of the story was the greatest fun. Thank you everyone who came by! Free download here (scroll to bottom):Aug - 2015: Politics of Chaos was released at an event attended by the awesome NYTimes best-selling author Sara Paretsky! Also, a flash fiction entitled, "Lightning" was 3rd runner up in the national 2015 Writers Police Academy's contest.
July - 2015: NYC FBI headquarters. Many thrilling authors were there, the presentations were fantastic, and the experience was a solid 15 on a 10 point scale. Thank you to the International Thriller Writers for inviting me. Thank you to the men and women of the FBI.
MAY - 2015: The Poisoned Pen submitted Chaos Theory for the 2015 Edgar's young adult novel award. Please note that submission is NOT a nomination. Still, it is an exciting development.
MAR - 2015:Tucson Festival of Books booksigning! Great time by all.
FEB - 2015: CHAOS THEORY, released by The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of The Poisoned Pen Press - one of the nation's largest publishers of hard-back mysteries.
MAR - 2013: Meg was honored to receive a year long mentorship from author Jan Blazanin through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - Iowa. Ms. Blazanin praised Meg's multiple characters' distinct and age appropriate voices.
Her writing blog is located at megevonne.blogspot.com contains reviews and writing craft tools.