Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Haven by Kay Hooper

In the first few minutes of Catherine Talbert's escape, she did her very best to be as quiet as possible.

This is the prologue. There is an author's note at the beginning explaining some things about this series, but I ignored that. I'm interested in story, not a welcome-ladies-and-gentlemen introduction. Reading on a bit, we discover that yet another character in the world of fiction is escaping a crazed lunatic in a prologue reserved for the purpose. I like to call these characters prologies in honor of perogies. They are like the red shirts in Star Trek - disposable, and a writer can feel free to do unspeakable horrors to them, and all for the benefit of readers, to thrust us into the book quickly. That's right, today's reader, so it seems, wants blood and death early on and only once the thirst for blood has been satisfied, can they settle into chapter 1. We have come a long way since the Roman death-sport and bear baiting days.

So Catherine runs for a bit, climbs for a bit, then jumps for a bit and then dies for a bit. Despite the generic nature of this prologue (brief, violent, contextually confusing), it does raise some questions, a condition necessary for being hooked - but after you've seen this plot device a million times (okay, 32 times in two months), it gets monotonous. What I like about the opening line is that the character is trying to be as quiet as possible. I like quiet people, and a dilemma presents itself: How to escape without making a sound?

Chapter 1:

Emma Rayburn shot bolt upright in bed, at first conscious of nothing except her heart pounding and the suffocating sense of being unable to breathe.

Ah, a book that begins in bed with a nightmare, as we learn a bit further along. But before we scoff in judgement, there is some back story on page 2 that reveals that this character likes to dream about girls and women dying - it's her thing, and so we realize that we've been teleported into the realms of the paranormal thriller genre. It was kind of the author to slip this info in early or a new reader might stop reading without ever knowing anything about the premise - unless they'd read the author's note.

For myself, the only question this line raises is what does it mean to be conscious of nothing but a beating heart and a suffocating sense. Wouldn't the character also be aware that they are aware, or is that asking too much from today's modern brain? In any case, the line reads more like a movie shot. In a book it sounds melodramatic and overwritten.

First thing said:

"It's okay, girl."

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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