Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Book #16 (5K #4): "When the Wind Blows" by James Patterson

I've been staring at the screen for five minutes, trying to think of a way to start this review. It should be easy. The amount of disgust, rage, and half-amused, half-horrified disbelief this book built up in me should easily produce a long stream of insults against such a hideous piece of work. And I'm sure it'll be easy. But how to begin? How to begin reviewing the worst piece of writing I have ever read from a man who dares to call himself a professional author? A best-selling professional author?

I'll start with the "plot". Then I'll move on to the really good stuff. Because, by jeebus, I have so much ridicule to spew forth against this book that I can hardly contain myself.

It's Colorado. A quiet, pretty little town surrounded by quiet, pretty forests. There's Frannie, a quiet, pretty veterinarian, whose husband was mysteriously killed. She is all good and sweet, nary a interesting, original word ever leaving her mouth ("I bent down, and grabbed the "mourning" paper, as I call the Post, since it's always so full of bad news.") There's Kit, a sexy, handsome ("...the sexiest, the best man I had ever known. I was so sure of it. Oh, I was sure.") loose-cannon of a man. He's an FBI agent who has decided to investigate the nasty, mysterious dealings going on in the quiet Colorado town. And there's Max, a beautiful 11 year old girl who has wings.*


Yeah. Apparently some evil scientists have decided to take the next step in evolution and make bird/human hybrids in their secret lab in this quiet Colorado town. Max ("...which wasn't short for Maxine, or Maximilian, but for Maximum. Maybe because she always gave her all. She always went for it. Just as she was doing right now.") escapes the lab with her little brother. Mean guards are sent after them. Everyone must be killed!

After a long series of short, stupid, pointless chapters setting up the characters, Frannie meets up with Kit and they decide to find the girl with wings and help her escape from the bad meanie guys. Horrible, funny stuff happens!

As you see, not only is the plot ludicrous and unoriginal, but it's also peopled by some truly ridiculous characters, all buffeted along by Patterson's truly deplorable brand of writing, which is far below the level of an 18 year freshman in his first college-writing course. Hell, I wrote better stuff than this when I was 13 and didn't speak English too well. Every character, every situation, is written by Patterson in short, choppy sentences (which you'd think would make for a fast read, but are strong together so poorly that they feel like speed bumps), in the most hilariously simple language, commas and exclamation points running rampant. Patterson doesn't believe in carefully explaining and drawing out a situation. Oh, no. That would actually require effort. Instead of building tension and letting the reader form his or her mental image of a situation through subtle and careful use of language, Patterson decides to bludgeon home every single point he tries to make. A perfect example:

"...So Max rolled real fast off the sofa...A metal chair came crashing through the window! Reflexively, she threw her arms over her face."


"Real fast"? what grown person dares to write a sentence like that? Does Mr Patterson honestly think we can't figure out that whatever happened was surprising, so he needs to insert an exclamation point there? Did he never take a class on proper use of grammar? Apparently not. He leaves off question marks at the end of questions, he uses adverbs like he's afraid he'll run out and his sentences are so poorly constructed they'd make anyone with half a brain want to cry. I know I'm no expert, but at least I know that questions should end with question marks. Among his other sins are repeating sentences over and over again, as if it's the only way to emphasize a point he can think of. He also peppers the book with pathetic allusions to pop-culture, which might've been relevant in the 90s (Power Rangers, for one) but only serve to age this sad little book. He clumsily keeps switching narrative perspectives, from Frannie's first-person narration to the massively dumbed-down point of view of an 11 year old girl, to a macho, oh-so-daring style for Kit. And they're all equally bad and uninteresting.

The book is a mess. One big, stinking, festering mess. I spent more time laughing and quoting particularly bad passages to my friends than I did caring about anything that was happening in the book. And that was a good thing, because if I had spent more time trying to comprehend the incredible stupidity of the plot and the characters on my own, I would've set this book on fire. As it happened, I only threw the book against the wall. Hard.

Don't read it. Don't let your friends read it. Don't read anything by Mr Patterson. Don't encourage him. For the love of everything holy, someone make this man stop writing things like this:

She was angry now. She wasn't going to die like this! No way was she going to cooperate with that lousy plan of theirs!
Max flapped her wings fast and real hard at the last possible second. The soldier or guard raised his head to look.
"Geronimo, asshole!" she yelled.
Fwap! Fwap! Fwap!
Max hit the man like a large, falling rock. His goggles flew off his face. The big, bad rifle spun away, too."


A best-selling author, ladies and gentlemen. Best-selling author. Isn't it depressing?

*Note: all the adjectives used in these two paragraphs were courtesy of the great James Patterson Repository of the Simplest of Simple Adjectives and How to Use them 1500 Times in One Book! Thanks, James!

PS: No, I am not making up any of these quotes.

1 comment:

Mr. Controversy said...

Reading your review reminds me of what I felt like when reading Twilight. Entertaining review, and my sympathies for you, Lady Fig.