Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Games by Ted Kosmatka

The boy lay motionless in the tube as the machine moved all around him.

I appreciate the author's avoidance of the pronoun in this opening line. The sentence is mostly effective as it raises questions: What is this machine? Why is the boy in it? What is the machine doing to him?

The scene quickly unfolds with a boy going through tests for which the doctors are looking for: Gross abnormalities.

So there's a hook here, the only problem is that this is the prologue so even though the author may have hooked the reader, never fear, the reader can most likely get unhooked with chapter 1, because in most novels chapter 1 begins with different people, in a different place, and in a different time than the prologue. Many chapter 1's I've reviewed, which follow an interesting prologue, are usually problemless in their immediate openings because the writer thinks that he or she has already hooked the reader. It's a fatal mistake that's often perpetrated. Hooks must constantly line a book and the opening of chapter 1 is a strategic must for a hook as it is the true beginning of a forward narrative story line.

First thing said which begins the second paragraph:

"Look into the screen, Evan."

There is lots of dialogue early, which always helps to pull a reader into a story, as opposed to dense long paragraphs of telling, description and back story. As well, the dialogue doesn't feel unnatural or forced.

Chapter 1:

Somewhere in the blackness a videophone rang.

So chapter 1 begins with a phone ringing, which is a cliche (Videophones count). Almost always when a book begins with a phone ringing, the next thing that happens is the character looks at the clock and we get the time. This one follows the cliche to its bitter end:

Through force of will, Silas brought the glowing face of the clock radio into focus: 3:07 A.M.

I will give this 2.5 stars for the interesting prologue. But (surprise, surprise) chapter 1 fails to follow up.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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