SPSFC2 Review: Fallen, by Patrick Abbott
Fallen, by Patrick Abbott, was in the initial slush pile of entrants Team Escapist received. It did not make the first cut, but I promised to review all books I read in the competition. During the initial round, only 20% was required to read, but I gave myself the goal of reading all books I was allotted to their completion. Unfortunately, there were a few books that I just couldn’t get through. Suffice it to say, I was well past the 70% mark when I had to put this book down. But since only 20% was needed in order to give a score, my score reflected what I thought of the first 20%. Which was, even at only 20%, to not move it forward in the competition.
MIL sci-fi with some thriller in the mix. Aliens and action. Deep and gritty. That’s what I was anticipating when I picked up this book. What I got was quite the opposite.
To start off … More words do not necessarily equate a richer, better story. Sometimes too much is too much.
Unfortunately, this book suffered from a slow middle build. It didn’t go anywhere, nor could I figure out who the antagonist was. If the author wanted to keep the ‘true’ antagonist a mystery, the humans or the aliens, it dragged on for far too long that it became frustrating. It’s like the Ross and Rachel phenomenon from Friends. There’s only so much time and effort someone is willing to divest in the tension and suspense of who’s right and who’s wrong before you’re fed up with certain conversations not happening, information not being given out, characters not asking or doing the right things. There comes a point when the vagueness, the suspense, the ‘let’s keep the reader guessing’, needs to end and the story needs to progress. The reader needs to be thrown a friggin’ bone!
If the middle build of a book drifts off into the ether, and yet you see another 300 pages left to read, the book becomes very daunting. Yes, I liked the protagonist, I wanted to root for him, but he kind of lacked an agenda, and half-way through the book I didn’t know what he wanted or what he was looking for. It became more of a story about day to day obstacles, to which the protagonist always got over with ease, and solved every problem, despite his misgivings. I’m sure each obstacle was meant to enlighten the reader into the deeper levels of the protagonist, but each obstacle was approached with anxiety and lack of confidence, but yet the protagonist turned out to be a smooth talker, knew everyone, and could solve the conflict with not just ease, but with the awe of others who couldn’t solve the conflict in the first place. I had to shake my head several times at the protagonist- I couldn’t figure him out. I couldn’t figure out what the author wanted me to think of him. And I started to wonder what the book was actually about. At one point, I even started to wonder if it was a romance novel since that took precedence for a while.
The back blurb promised action and adventure, yet it was more walking and talking and feelings, coupled with a mystery that took too long to come to fruition.
Many times, particularly at the beginning (but smoothed out later) dialogue appeared to be a cover-up for info-dumping. A lot of telling, and at times, also showing but immediately after the telling. It became repetitive.
All this repetitiveness and lack of true ‘trial and error efforts’ for the protagonist, and the dragging out of who the real antagonist was, eventually became too much and I ultimately had to DNF. This book needed a stronger purpose and it needed to stick to it. Two many themes convoluted what was probably a really good, strong story. I really wish the author would take this back to the drawing board and tightened it up, because ultimately, I think this would be a fantastic story. Particularly because there is a very important under current simmering just below the surface of all the cluttered mess of the story telling. And I think that’s what the author ultimately wanted to write about, but getting caught up in other writing elements had the author losing his way.