So, it’s Novemeber and I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo. I’m at just over 41,000 words right now. As you can imagine, that means I haven’t done a lot of reading lately. But I did manage one book, The Chorus Effect, by Russell Boyd. It was sent to me for review.
Description from Goodreads:
Until recently, Chintz had been a relatively normal guy with a relatively normal cat. For example, neither he, nor his cat, had ever journeyed to a synthetic parallel universe. He had never encountered a teleporting baby or an emotionally mature computer. He could count on one hand the number of philosophical discussions he’d had with people holding multiple degrees in advanced physics. And thus far, his relationship with the voices in his head had been purely platonic.
Suddenly, Chintz finds himself working alongside a dysfunctional team of scientists and their astonishing creations, seeking answers to age-old questions — answers that could change our concept of humanity. Of course, that’s only if they can survive federal law enforcement, starvation, psychopathic figments of imagination, the hostile old man who lives across the street, and the end of the “known universe.”
Well, actually it’s the end of “a” universe, that “only some people know about.” But for Chintz, that may not be any better at all.
I suppose there will be an audience out there for this book. It’s trying very hard to be Douglas Adams-like and plenty of people (myself included) love Douglas Adams’ quirky humor. IMHO, this doesn’t quite make it though, as a Douglas Adam’s clone or on it’s own.
On a positive note, it’s well written and surprisingly well edited for a self-published book. There are some interesting, odd-ball characters and had the whole thing been a set up for Katie and Chintz’s last moment’s, I’d have called it a success. But it’s about 1/3 too long (if not more) for that to be the case.
If I had to condense this review to a few carefully chosen words, they would be presumptuous and self-indulgent. The author’s constant breaking of the fourth wall especially. As if the book wasn’t quite quirky enough the author/narrator had to stick his two cents in too. It was annoying and broke up the story.
It was this over the top quirkiness that eventually ruined the book for me. You have characters who speak in mixed up, nonsense for no apparent reason at all. You have POVs from the perspective of a cat. You have a narrative style dedicated to pointing out the absurd over the expected, which could have been great if not quite so over played. You have philosophy passed off as science and science of the hard-core hand waving variety. It was all too much for me.
And that is a shame; because Boyd’s descriptive ability is wonderful. I appreciated the distinct lack of alpha hero and the success of the socially anxious, nerd heroes. I liked that there was a strong female character (though I’m borderline on the fact that her sexuality caused such ruptions. I think the book skirted the cliché, but JUST BARELY). But there was just too much else crowding these good things out. In the end, I bored and just hoping to finish.