Friday, 19 June 2009

Book Report: Monster Island and Jack & Jill

Crazy shit!

I recently just finished two books. One of them wasn't bad. The other wasn't good. Interestingly, both used the same storytelling technique of switching between first and third person narratives. Never in my life had I read a book that did this, and now I've two. At the same time.

Monster Island, by David Wellington, tells the story of Dekalb and a group of teen-aged female soldiers from Somalia who travel to New York City in search of AIDS medication for a Somali warlord. The only thing standing in their way are the zombified citizens of NYC. Dekalb's story is told in the first person, but partway through the book, the narrative changes gears and the focus shifts to a third person description of Gary, a newly dead, and his experiences.

Jack and Jill, by James Patterson, is a murder mystery set in Washington DC. Detective/psychologist Alex Cross is working two cases, one is as high-profile as it gets, the other no one cares about. Patterson jumps back and forth from Alex's first person narraive and the killers' point of view, which are told in the third person.

Symmetrical book stacking. I do it all the time.

In the case of Monster Island, which I started reading first, I didn't really know what to make of the change in perspective. Eventually, I got used to it but it didn't really impact my enjoyment of the story. At the end of the book, it is revealed why the story is told the way that it is. That twist was something that did affect me. It almost ruined the book.

As for Jack and Jill, the story begins in the third person and then switches over to Alex Cross. And that's where Patterson lost me. I was, by now, familiar with the changing point of view, but Alex's character is so smug and self-righteous, I could barely stand to read him. The killers' stories, however, were interesting but sadly most of the book is dedicated to Alex's musings on evil.

Monster Island has two sequels, Monster Nation and Monster Planet. I'll probably read the second book. It will be interesting to see how Wellington creates a narrative seeing as how Dekalb is unable to chronicle his actions as he did when he arrived in NYC.

Patterson has written a number of books, but I'm unlikely to read another one. It was just that bad.

Where The Wild Things Are is one of my favourite books.

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