Monday, 3 February 2014

Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline

Chloe woke up on the floor, her thoughts foggy.

The advantage of reviewing single lines of books is that it allows me to stop and ponder language and meaning and all it implies - one word and one meaning at a time. This line makes me wonder: How is a thought foggy? I understand how the mind is foggy and thoughts are like people inhabiting the fog, but a foggy thought?

Taking it slowly, real slowly, I ponder the next line; it makes me wonder too:

She must have fallen and knocked herself out when she hit the hardwood.

Does this mean that she wanted to knock herself out and that falling was intentional? There are better ways to knock oneself out. And hardwood is an adjective so hardwood what? To infer or not to infer, that is the exercise. The door? Oh, right, the floor.

A better alternative would be something like changing the verb knock out from active - something she is doing to herself, to passive - something that is being done to her:

She must have fallen and got knocked out when she hit the hardwood floor.

This only goes to show how much writers take for granted when it comes to a reader's understanding. Many assume the reader will understand what is meant even though the text is not written exactly as the meaning implied. It's a verification that readers can figure things out despite the writing. Translate these lines literally into another language and they make about as much sense as they actually mean in English.

Anyway, despite the ever so slightly ambiguous sentences, there is a scene here with tension and mystery that raises some questions; so overall, the first couple pages are effective in hooking readers. However, some back story is copied and pasted awkwardly into places, and is totally unnecessary so early in the story. I mean, a woman has been knocked out and the reader is burning to know how and why, but the writer inserts what knocked-out character's favorite color is so to mention what the character used to do - teach art in middle school? That's a fail. At this point I couldn't care less whether the lady is a dirty T-shirt inspector or a vacuum repairwoman. All I care about are the above two questions the scene raises, so I find myself skipping ahead.

First thing said:


That's the second exclamation mark on page 1, so two down and one to go, according to Mr. Leonard.

Verdict: Pass

Because despite the insertions of back story there is a scene with conflict unfolding.

Theodore Moracht

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