When “Libby Cone” first emailed me and asked me to review her novel “Flesh and Grass” I said no. I had the email typed up and was about to click “Send”, but then I heard a little voice say “don’t send that!” so of course (with the voice being that of my nosy husband) I didn’t. Instead I said ok. (I am seriously considering making him sleep on the couch.)
To be perfectly honest I got bored just reading the synopsis for this book, and the thought of having to read more of it was daunting. Here was a novel that was originally intended to be historical fiction (which yes.. I have read several times before, and enjoyed…thank you very much!) but after more research (on the author’s part) her novel was flip-flopped into the strictly fiction category.
Here are the problems I have with that. (buckle up… I’m about to get bitchy)
1. If your original writing format was slated for HISTORICAL fiction then you have incorporated a great deal of “timelined” detail (dates, cities, etc.) These particular qualities can drag down a “strictly” FICTION novel. Think of it as reading the nutrition labels on EVERY single thing you pick up in a store. The detail to getting facts, numbers, dates and locations accurate draw away from the intended plot.
2. If an author decides to write a fiction novel (historical or not) there has to be an element of anticipation. Who is this story about? Why should we care about this person? What is going to happen to this person that makes THIS story significant or entertaining?
In “Flesh and Grass” both of the issues arose. Too much filler not enough substance.
The first half of the novel (keeping in mind the entire book is a little over 90 pages) was so bogged down by “factual” references that by the time and actual plot line appeared I had completely lost interest. Even though the story was clearly narrated through the mouth of one person, that said person had no defining qualities to link a reader to his outcome. (aka sloppy character development.)
I am, in no way, saying that this particular story couldn’t have been interesting, (it was about a group of people fleeing their “own” country seeking religious freedom, and a new life, only to be wrapped up in shady politics and a war that stemmed hundreds of miles away) what I am saying is that to make THIS particular story work, a story that is supposed to teach a lesson as well as entertain the audience, there has to be a defined hero/heroine with strong qualities that will encourage the reader to keep going. This novel, unfortunately, did nothing but make me feel as if I was listening to a genealogy lesson.
“Libby Cone” is a fantastic writer, (contrary to my previous rant), her use of language and her eye for detail is stunning, but she lacks the knack for making a book come alive.
Here is a theory I have. In her preface “Cone” stated that she had stopped working on this book for more than a year, if that is in fact true, this is the question she should have asked herself.
“How can I expect to keep my audience interested when I can’t even keep myself interested?”
I hate writing reviews like this, because I know, that despite my dislike for it, there is someone out there that took the time, the effort and had the passion to write it…but in the same right…if you’re going to write a book…. really WRITE THE BOOK. Don’t dance around it, don’t second guess yourself, and don’t change your mind half way through it.
Save your money kiddo’s. Maybe her next one will be worth the change.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Someone has to make them mad… might as well be me.
For a complete book description click image