Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Willful Suspension of Disbelief

Anyone who reads fiction is very familiar with the concept of "willful suspension of disbelief". This has to do with our voluntarily going along with the plot, characters and theme of a story, allowing ourselves to get caught up in the tale "as if" it were real, even though we know it is not.

Over the years I have read quite a bit of science fiction and a smattering of fantasy works. I grew up reading Tolkein's tales of Middle Earth and spent a few years in my 20's as an avid Trekkie, to the point that I would use phrases and analogies in my every day conversations based on the world created by Gene Roddenberry.

So I am no stranger to Willful Suspension of Disbelief (WSB).

Still, when a book violates not only the rules of the known universe, but also seems to change its own rules midstream, my mind balks.

Such was the case with my recent read of Sweet Dreams by Bosie author, Aaron Patterson.

But here is my quandary.... I am not sure which bothers me more, for a book to be totally predictable or for a book to shift gears so suddenly and unexpectedly that I lose my ability to believe in it.

I get bored with books that plod through a formula so entrenched that on page 30 you can pretty much guess how it will end. However, if an author is going to take a wild leap of changing all the rules of who characters are or what they have experienced there better be plenty of explanation to make those shifts plausible. I simply did not think Patterson met that standard with this book.

There were pieces of this novel that I genuinely liked. On two different nights I sat up late turning pages because I was very engaged in the story and simply could not put it down. It held my interest and made me want to know how all the pieces were going to fit together.

My frustration is, I don't think they did fit together. At least not enough for me. When I got to the part where THE WHOLE BOOK turned on it's head to go off in a different direction I was beyond skeptical. I kept looking for enough back story to make sense of the shift and it simply didn't play out. There was one point that had the potential for some fascinating spins that just never completely materialized.

Add to that some truly INSIPID dialogue and some extraneous sentences that annoyed the dickens out of me making me want to trade my whole kingdom for a decent copy editor (which could also have helped with the multiple typos my teacher eyes kept finding scattered throughout).

So I'm this a book I would recommend? It truly had some things about it I liked very much. I can see why some would very much enjoy it. I've just passed it on to my husband to get his impressions. I suspect the James Bond elements of slick agent with awesome technology will appeal to him. Still, for me there are just too many holes. MAYBE some of the questions the book left me hanging with will be resolved in later episodes of this series. Or not. I guess I just might have to read the next book to find out.

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