Thursday, March 05, 2009

Parallels



Parallel is a neat word, with multiple meanings in mathematics, gymnastics, and in literature. The very idea that ideas can be alike, yet different, is intriguing. I’ve often enjoyed works with parallels, such as the fable, Animal Farm, which is the tale of animals rebelling in England, but closely parallels happenings in Russia, beginning with the Bolshevik revolution and ending with events which happened during World War II.

I just finished, and I say that with a bit of pride because it was difficult, Parallel Attraction by Deidre Knight. Having heard Ms. Knight speak at a writer’s conference, in her role as literary agent rather than as a writer, I wanted to like this debut novel. As I struggled to make it through the chaos of the time travel plot, I checked out the reviews on Amazon. Some of them were glowing, especially those by her clients and fellow authors. But others, by readers, gave it one or two stars, and I tend to agree with some of their comments. The opening of the novel works well enough, and Knight’s prose is quite good overall, although she sometimes does some odd phrasing, such as, “...as he barked something at a group of engineers out in the breezeway who had been working on one of his fighter planes when they’d stridden in.” More troubling was the plot/peril sequence, which was a confusing time travel sequence. The hero wasn’t particularly heroic, nor was the villain particularly villainous, which is a greater flaw. Also, there was very little romance in this romance novel, because the main characters became “mated” with almost no build up, and the characterization seemed to be more driven by introducing minor characters to become main characters in subsequent novels in the series.

Recently, the proprietor of a used book store told me that one can judge a book by its price used. As I write this, Parallel Attraction can be purchased via Amazon for one penny, plus shipping, from fifteen vendors, and for under a dollar from seven more. Perhaps that says more than all of those glowing reviews from Deidre’s colleagues.

I will no doubt revisit Animal Farm, with its entertaining parallels with both history and human behavior, and I hope that Deidre Knight does succeed in writing a great romance, since she seems to be such a nice person.

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