Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman
Hobbled by a flat tire, Ashlynn's fire-orange Mustang convertible limped to a stop on the main street of the abandoned farm town.
What a weird sentence. Hobbled is the past participle form of the verb which in this case indicates passive voice, not wrong, mind you, just not really right either. Can a person be hobbled by something? Hey, Dad, Tommy hobbled me again!
You need to think it out for a second. (I took less than that though). Hobble and limp are synonyms so I suppose we should be lucky he didn't write: Limped by a flat tire, because then the problem becomes obvious.
The personification is funny, too. A car limping onto the main street of a farm town. I have an image of a cartoon, something like Susie the Car, though she's blue.
I've never heard a rural town called a farm town. It makes me think of a town with a series of farms on the main street. Having been once rural myself, I have heard the term farming town. I assume farm town is some local expression, though when I google "farm town", I only get a plethora of computer games.
The next paragraph describes said farm town. You don't need to read it if you have imagination enough to imagine what a ruined ghost town would look like. In fact, it's better if you don't read the description, since you'll understand the scene better by not reading it. It's almost midnight, and the protagonist (it's that person's POV) is able to see little details like dirty shards of glass in the gravel. No matter how bright the moon is, moonlight doesn't shine as brightly as the sun at high noon. Even at high noon, who would notice dirty glass in gravel? This isn't the only example of descriptive incongruities in this so far (and I hate to contradict Lisa Gardner's plug at the back of the book, but...) very non-gripping and non-moving thriller. Though, so far it is shocking - for a grammatician, which me ain't.
Christopher Hawk drove west on Highway 7 into the emptiness of rural Minnesota, leaving civilization behind him with each mile away from the city.
Christopher Hawk? What a name. It's only slightly better than Steve Stifler or Tugg Speedman and slightly worse than Buck Rogers.
Then there is the second part of this sentence: ...leaving civilization behind him with each mile away from the city. The author is abusing the usage of "away", an adverb which means: from this or that place, or in or to another place or direction, or toward another direction, and it modifies a verb. The problem is there is no verb "away" can modify in the above clause. So it sounds like each mile is away from the city? You can be a mile away from the city but each mile can not really be away from the city. Well, technically they can be away: This mile is away from the city. I hope that doesn't make sense to you. It should be: ...with each mile Hawk drives away from the city.
I'd just delete the delinquent, offending word "away". In any case, the phrase is awkward, and the sentences don't get better with practice, as shown in the next one:
Staring at the horizon between his windshield wipers, he could have sworn the world was flat, and he hoped there was a sign ahead to warn him before he sped off the edge of the earth.
...horizon between his windshield wipers...is speaking figuratively or literally? Take your pick. It sounds like the horizon is literally between the wipers, but that's not possible. It must be speaking figuratively; though, in a sense if you wrote the sentence with clarity, the horizon is between the wipers, though off in the distance from them. The sentence is written in two-dimensional terms when it needs to be in three-dimensional terms, so to speak. So this sentence is not quite literal and not quite figurative. What is it then? Figurlitlively?
And unless he's hallucinating, why would Hawk hope there is a sign up ahead warning him about the edge of the earth? Or is this supposed to be a joke?
By paragraph two the writer succumbs to his skill level as a writer and describes the weather with expressions like bumpy clouds and swollen ditches. How does a ditch get swollen, that is, bigger than it was, when in fact, the water is overflowing or swelling out of it? When a pot overflows, we don't say the pot is swollen.
Of course throughout these openings we have no conflict (except for a limping car) and little characterization (except for a cross-eyed dweeb with no depth perception). Tone? Uh-uh, unless you want to count the horrible attempts at figurative gymnastic attempts at bad poetic poetry, which I literally mean figuratively.
First thing said:
Verdict: Epic Fail