About writing. And reading. And being published. Or not published. On working on being published. Tangents into the pop culture world to come. Especially about movies. And comic books. And movies from comic books.
Friday, November 27, 2015
The Fatal Tree (a book review post)
The first problem with the book is, as it turns out, the conflict is "cosmic" in nature. As revealed at the end of the previous book, The Shadow Lamp, the end of the universe is coming. As I mentioned in my review of The Shadow Lamp, this is an issue because it changes the focus of the series. We believe during the first three books and most of the way through the fourth that conflict is with Burleigh, but, suddenly, no, although Burleigh is a bad guy, he is not the bad guy. He is not the antagonist.
In fact, there is no real antagonist, not at that point, just an event that previously happened that, now, needs to be prevented. Remember the part in one of my previous reviews where I said this isn't a time travel story? Well, it's still not, but they still have to figure out a way to prevent something from happening that already happened. Except they don't really know that.
Actually, the major issue with this book is that the catastrophic event that was only discovered as a possibility at the end of book four is just suddenly happening. It's like if you were making tea: You put your water in your tea kettle, you turn on the burner on the stove, you set the kettle on the burner... You expect to need to have to wait for the water to heat up before you can make your tea, right? But not in this book. Instead, as soon as you set the kettle down, not only does the water start to boil, it explodes into steam. The sudden shift from trying to find the skin map to the universe could be in danger to THE UNIVERSE IS IMPLODING RIGHT NOW! was unenjoyable to say the least.
And, then, what do you do about the universe imploding? Absolutely nothing, that's what. It's kind of like standing in front of a tsunami and trying to stop it by holding up your hands. But Kit and his gang (because Kit has somehow become the leader) decide they're going to stop it. So they spend a lot of time talking about it and doing not much and never figure anything out.
The other issue, from a plot stand point, is the tree. The fatal tree. The fatal tree that, really, has nothing to do with anything. It's just there. There's a whole book, basically, devoted to this tree, and it doesn't really mean anything or have to do with anything. That was annoying.
Then there's Burleigh...
So, look, Lawhead writes Christian-themed books. I get that. As a Christian, I appreciate his general subtle application of Christianity into his stories. But not this time. Because Burleigh, as it turns out, isn't really our bad guy, he needs to have a conversion experience, which would be fine, except... Except that Lawhead spends chapters and chapters dealing with Burleigh and his descent into self-loathing so that he can finally come to understand that he's powerless on his own and does, yes, need God. This is all handled more like someone with an addiction needing to hit bottom to know that he needs help rather than someone coming to understand that it's grace that is needed. Also, it goes on way too long. In detail. It's tiring.
Basically, I was very dissatisfied with the book and how it ended the series. Too many things happen for no real reason other than that the author needed them to happen so he made them happen. There's no explanation or rational or anything. I'm sorry, but you don't write a whole book about a tree that just happened to be there and has no other purpose than that it happened to be there. Also, you don't have the "heroes" essentially save the universe on accident, even if that's what they wanted to do. I can't say the series, overall, was a waste of time (because books two, three and four were really very good), but I might have been more satisfied if I had never read this one and just wondered what happened.
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It's a shame a strong story ended with a clunk.ReplyDelete
TAS: It is. I was worried about it from book three on. I wish I had been wrong.Delete
It stinks when a book has a bad ending. Being the end of a series just makes it a hundred times worse. Too bad. Well, at least you can enjoy the middle books.ReplyDelete
Jeanne: It does stink. But, at least, I was somewhat prepared for it since I had been expecting this one to get away from him.Delete
Well, I won't be picking this one up.ReplyDelete
Interesting that you objected to them saving the universe by accident. I remember the tagline to Star Wars: "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally, they became heroes."
Seems like the bigger objection is that the scope changed all of a sudden, like the author thought "this has to be bigger," and without any preamble just altered the focus. If he'd built up to that over the four previous books, it might not matter so much.
Briane: I don't mind it being saved by accident, per se; but the manner of saving the universe is never adequately explained. This thing happened that caused something inexplicable, even to the author, evidently, and, thus, they were able to save the universe.Delete
I'm a concrete-thinking type of gal, being a scientist, so all that cosmic business usually throws me completely off. And, how disappointing for the series to end in such mystifying circumstances.ReplyDelete
When are you going to re-read all the Narnia books? I want your take on them.
Veronica: All of the cosmic stuff is actually pretty well based on real science. It's all theoretical physics, but he used actual hypotheses that are out there rather than just pulling stuff out of his butt.Delete
Until he got to the end, that is, that he pulled out of his butt.
I like the Narnia books. I do actually re-read those periodically, although it's been a while. Maybe I'll work them in.
I hate being disappointed by an author I love. That happened with me with Robin Hobbs' books. I adored the Farseer Trilogy but the Soldier Son Trilogy did nothing for me even though I slogged my way through all three books.ReplyDelete
mshatch: I don't know if it's good or bad, but I'm kind of used to it with Lawhead. I think it says something, though, about his good books that I am still willing to read anything he releases without waiting to see how other people feel about it.Delete