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Samir's Critical Corner

I love good writing. Samir's Critical Corner will have reviews on World Literature but you will also find reviews on various subjects like Mathematics or Tai Chi, and on specific niches like Nigerian writers.

Currently reading

South Sea Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
Robert Louis Stevenson
Progress: 122/289 pages

Review: Flash Forward by Robert J. Sawyer

Flashforward - Robert J. Sawyer

This is entertainment fiction, specifically science fiction. As I read less and less genre fiction, it takes a lot for me to stick with such books. I tend to gravitate towards literary fiction because I love the unsaid contract between author and reader that states: if I (the author) accomplish this properly, you (the reader)  will be wholly invested in my character(s).


Now, having previously read a Sawyer book which I did enjoy tremendously for its ideas (back when I wasn't so picky), namely The Terminal Experiment, I decided to give this book a try since it's been on my shelf for a while. I've recently downsized and reorganized my library, getting rid of some 200 books, mostly genre based or non-fiction that I don't intend to reference anymore. So, I needed to decide whether this stays or goes.


The writing is average, which is why I've given this book 1.5 stars instead of 0.5. As far as genre fiction goes, this is good writing. But for someone who loves the subtlety of language and the layered complexities of literary fiction, this obviously doesn't deliver. Don't expect metaphors or symbolism, but at least the text is not rampant with adverbs, unnecessary adjectives and every possible tag other than 'said'. 


I read about 40 pages and then gave up on the book. The reason: no connection with any character - I'm  not even focusing on the protagonist here - just any character... after 40 pages, zilch! Is the plot interesting? -Sure (whatever I could gather so far). Is the pace fast? -Absolutely, and probably exciting if you're into fast-paced novels. Is the science viable? -How the hell should I know with SF (and I have a degree in Maths), ok, I'd say it's enough to suspend my disbelief. Is all this enough to make me read the book? -Maybe 10 years ago, no wait, YES to 10 years ago. But not anymore. Not when there is such lack character development. 


In a nutshell, If I'm going to read commercial/genre fiction, it needs to be well-written within the parameters of genre writing, but it also needs to have a character I can understand and sympathize with (and I really don't think I'm asking for much here). So this goes away.


Samir Rawas Sarayji