Stopped Reading REVIEW: Thriller

The Cleaner (John Milton #2)The Cleaner by Mark Dawson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I rarely stop reading books, especially if they have a good premise and an awesome cover. Dawson’s grammar is pretty good too, and the formatting is fine.

So why did I stop reading?

Well, I ran into a wall of needless exposition 10% into the Kindle e-book.

The story was gearing up pretty good, protagonist gets second thoughts about his job, doesn’t shoot a young witness, gets dressed down by his superior and quits.

All is well up to this point, but then, when the protagonist has gone, his superior pulls out the protagonist’s human resources file and starts going over what should be familiar knowledge to the superior, resulting in several pages delving into the protagonist’s back story with all the charm of reading someone’s job application resume.

Why? Why ruin the pace with this clunky exposition?

I see this often happen in mediocre books and shows, where the author/director assumes the audience are morons who have to be spoon-fed information they cannot glean from the protagonist’s actions. And the fact is that the audience (readers/viewers) are way more intelligent than they get credit for.

I’m sorry to give this book a 1-star rating, but I can’t abide lazy writing. I don’t need a protagonist’s resume, I need them to be interesting. I don’t want to run into a wall of exposition that drags down the pace to a standstill, I want to read what’s going to happen next. John Milton sounded interesting until I got too much information in the worst way possible.

Too bad. Great cover, great premise, good formatting, lazy writing.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

6 Comments on “Stopped Reading REVIEW: Thriller”

  1. Raymond says:

    Ouch the infamous info dump! Good cause to stop reading.

    Like

    • I thought so too.

      The main reason I reviewed this book, is because this particular info dump (authority reading human resources file back to the subject) is so pervasive in books/films/tv and such a clear sign of lazy writing.

      I posted this review at GoodReads, and the author replied, telling me:

      Hi Martyn,

      Thanks for the review. A little stinging, perhaps, but I appreciate the time you spent explaining why it didn’t work for you.

      I hate unnecessary exposition, too, but the reader needs to know Milton’s backstory (because it’ essential in positioning him as a fish very much out of water in what follows) and that isn’t something that can be very easily conveyed in another way in this instance. If it were possible, that’s what I would have done. (And I most certainly don’t consider my readers to be morons!)

      It’s a shame you stopped at that point. I won’t try and persuade you to persevere, but, if you do, I’d be very interested in your thoughts.

      Thanks again for the critique.

      Best wishes,

      MD

      To which I replied:


      “Mark wrote: “…the reader needs to know Milton’s backstory (because it’ essential in positioning him as a fish very much out of water in what follows) and that isn’t something that can be very easily conveyed in another way in this instance. If it were possible, that’s what I would have done.”

      Hi Mark,

      While the necessity of the back story is debatable, the expository lump can be solved in several ways that make sure the information does not drag down the pace of the story.

      As you admit yourself in the bold part of your reaction, you chose this particular method, because other methods cannot ‘easily’ convey what you wanted to say. But then, as authors, we have to steer clear of ‘easy’, if that results in ‘lazy writing’.

      I’m willing to discuss methods, but not on GoodReads, as these reviews are intended to inform readers, not to provide feedback to authors.

      You can find my email in my profile, if you wish to contact me.

      Cordially, MVH

      So far, he hasn’t taken me up on my offer…

      Like

      • Raymond says:

        The necessary exposition versus info dump argument is common and perhaps somewhat subject at times. Unfortunately for authors, readers perception is often the measurement of reality. “Just get past this bad part and I promise it gets better” means a story isn’t ready…in my opinion. As I said I enjoy your reviews more than I’d probably enjoy the books your reviewing.

        Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s