The Outcasts: Book I: The Lies of Autumn is a fantasy tale by Chuck Abdella. Unfortunately, I only made my way through a quarter of it before I couldn’t take it any more.
In a really good book, characters behave and talk organically–the personality as a whole leads naturally to words and actions. That is the exact opposite of the characters in The Outcasts. Instead, it’s as though the words and actions of the characters are transparent, and you can see the hand of the author moving beneath them. The characters act and talk in whatever way will allow the author to best dictate the events that he wants us to experience. This is most true in the dialogue, which is stilted, redundant, and condescending. The author assumes he’ll have to tell us something over and over and over again before we’ll get the idea. Characters have conversations for no other reason than to educate the reader:
“Must you ask questions to which you know the answers?”
— followed by, of course, the answers.
Characters also ruminate endlessly about every little detail, then rinse and repeat a few pages later. Characters have virtually no depth (and the author’s notion of what adds depth to the characters boils down to adding a quirk or having someone ruminate on the character’s, well, character). Whole races boil down to stereotypes–don’t get me started on the Wizards who are nothing more than fantasy Vulcans. Even more oddly, once in a long while a single sentence will randomly break the fourth wall, calling the reader “you”. It isn’t used often enough to be a part of the book’s overall style.
I take notes while I read so I’ll have some idea where to start when writing a review. In this case the endless ruminating led to my writing “blah blah blah blah” in my notes, it was that bad. There’s so much fat to trim from this narrative; the book would probably be half as long if all the overhashed, endlessly-repeated notions got cut.
I was determined to read enough to be able to make a full review, but I hit a point where I really couldn’t stand to read any more, so I didn’t.
NOTE: Book provided free by publisher for review.
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