Monday, 27 April 2015
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
So begins an Edgar nomination for best book this year in the juvenile category. This line establishes setting and tone. However, since this is a mystery novel, we mystery fans need a taste of the mystery, sooner rather than later.
What we get instead for several pages is back story and character development. Important stuff, but please provide a hint of the mystery first, the puzzle etc. That is what hooks mystery fans. At least that is the easiest way to hook. Only after three pages do we get some hint of story plot conflict in the form of some preamble: the 12-year-old narrator says that it's because of the toilets that got him into more trouble than he could ever imagine. No clue though as to what that is. With all preamble, we basically learn that this novel will have a problem, a mystery, but intelligent readers can assume that anyway without being told, since that is kind of what novels are about: problems.
Then three more pages of back story before there is mention of a murder. No details though. The narrator eases in by going through the whole process of him going to the toilet on the moon. Normally this would be ultra boring and unnecessary, but as this is in space it is interesting to learn about how that is done in a low gravity environment. It's through details like this that the author manages to hook, because of the setting and the character rather than the mystery itself. This can only tell you that this is a talented writer. Lesser writers fail every day trying to hook in such a manner.
Anyway, I kept reading all the way to the end. I'm glad I did.
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