Monday, 8 December 2014

The Fall Of Troy by Peter Ackroyd / Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi / The Awakening by Emma Jones

The Fall Of Troy by Peter Ackroyd
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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Not very impressed by The Fall Of Troy. The central character of Heinrich Obermann is the only one who is fleshed out and he is a very unlikeable selfish fantasist, bent on completely destroying a valuable archaeological site in his desperation to make the site fit the demands of his imagination. All the supporting characters are two-dimensional and poorly created so it is difficult to understand their actions and why they behave as they do. I think that a good knowledge of ancient Greek myths and the work of Homer might add to the appeal of Ackroyd's novel because his characters at times appear to be recreating the legends, but unfortunately the synopsis doesn't state that this expertise is essential to the reader's understanding and my bare bones remembrances weren't up to the task. Fortunately this is only a short book so not too much reading time wasted!

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

One of my WorldReads from Italy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Reading around after finishing Pinocchio, I have learned that its author, Carlo Collodi, didn't actually like children very much and this fairytale was his attempt to scare them into behaving properly. Given the horrors that befall the poor puppet, I can quite believe it! The original Pinocchio is one dark story and I'm not even sure children should be allowed to read it.

I was surprised that I enjoyed reading Pinocchio so much because, in true fairytale style, there is little in the way of proper description or realism in the characters. Everyone is pretty two-dimensional and scenes pass swiftly with the emphasis on action rather than scene-setting. (It is strange how this works in a fairytale, yet is one of my main criticisms of both the other novels in this post. For them, the lack works against the novel.) However, what makes the writing wonderful and gripping is Collodi's fantastic imagination. Having not read this for decades, I could not remember what happens next and there is no way I could have guessed! Even tiny cameo roles like the Snail are fun. I could have done with less of the repetitive moralising, but otherwise Pinocchio is a great read.

The Awakening by Emma Jones
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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My second novel of the year to be titled The Awakening although this one is a very different prospect from Kate Chopin's story. Emma Jones' The Awakening, her first novel, was published almost exactly a year ago. I first spotted it via twitter then was reminded by Sophie's post on her Reviewed The Book blog.

Staunchly in the Young Adult genre, The Awakening is told in the first person by Lauren, a young woman who unexpectedly discovers that her new boyfriend is a vampire. Swiftly taken under his family's wing, she learns about their history, her own family's supernatural past and the possibilities for her future both with boyfriend, Gavin, or maybe with his cousin, the black sheep, Daniel.

Unfortunately, The Awakening suffers from frequent poor punctuation, typos and spelling mistakes which at times make it tricky to follow. I noticed earlier reviews have also commented on this and most would be easy to spot and correct. I think this would improve the reading experience because, at the moment, these errors keep destroying any atmosphere as its builds up.

Throughout the book, Lauren talks at great length about her predicament and indecision but, infuriatingly, I didn't feel that I particularly got to know either her or Gavin as individuals. Much of the dialogue is generic and repetitive so doesn't illuminate their characters. I would have liked a lot more understanding of how Lauren felt at specific times. She sees dark visions that are presumably disturbing, but then pops off to the pub with her mates and everything is normal and forgotten? Also, I would have liked an actual ending as the mid-scene stop simply doesn't work for me. I felt cheated which doesn't inspire me to risk buying any more of the series.

The Awakening has an interesting premise and the overall story arc is entertaining, but it needs more time spent, both for editing and proofreading, to turn it into a strong, dynamic novel.

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