Tuesday, 7 January 2014

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt

In Moscow I was always cold.

Not only is this about weather, but it tells me something I already know, and I suspect everyone else with a Grade 6 education knows as evidenced in the next line:

I suppose that's what Russia is known for. Winter.

The whole first paragraph is dedicated to telling us in no uncertain terms that it really, really, really is winter and it really, really, really is cold. Anyway this is a prologue so it doesn't really matter much. Eventually the weather report disperses into a fog of back story filled with Russian words and Russians speaking bad English. With the abbreviations CIA and KGB one might assume that is where the hook is, but as they've been used and done to death, they bore more, despite the flimsy mystery that is suggested towards the end.

Chapter 1

The first defector was my sister.

Not bad, but this sentence is unfortunately followed by back story of the Kodak moment variety. With this opening is one to expect the story to start and stall throughout, as the moods of the author change from vivid description to nostalgic, sentimental back story with only snippets of forward narrative?

On the plus side, (Theodore is making me add plus sides to failed openings) there are lots of little tidbits of details that make the characterization come alive, but for me (according to the definition of a story) those "living" characters need to be immersed in conflict and not reminiscing of past tensions. Reminiscing can come later.

First thing said:

"Why is your mom crying?"

Which was said in a back story moment.

Verdict: Fail

Rudy Globird

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