This is another post for my book reviews for writers. I break down the main plot and character components of a novel and discuss what writers can take away from it.
There are a few minor spoilers in this post. Read at your own risk!
Someone suggested I pick this book up because it was vaguely similar to my own manuscript, and I'm so glad I did! I hadn't read Asimov before - in fact, I haven't read much science fiction at all - so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
Here's the basic premise, for those of you who have been living in the dark (haha) like me: In a world where there are six suns and constant daylight, an approaching Darkness threatens to send the entire population into madness.
Nice, huh? And the first half was brilliant. The entire lead-up to the Darkness was mesmerising. The astrophysics and mathematics behind it was awe-inspiring (for a layman like me, anyway). There were multiple points of view, and all characters ended up being linked by midpoint.
Lesson: A good, different, interesting premise will have people picking up a book in a genre they normally wouldn't read.
Erm. This is where the book sort of... fell into a heap. Please remember this is only my opinion, and if anyone who's read it would like to dispute my thoughts in the comments, by all means do so! I'd love to hear a convincing argument for the second half of the book.
Because the second half is where this story (in my opinion) flops. The lead-up was magnificent. Then from the midpoint it seemed to go downhill, and not in a good, thrilling, hang-onto-your-seat-so-you-don't-fall-out-the-side sort of way. The Darkness happens. People go mad. Anarchy. Chaos. Bedlam.
The characters just seemed to wander around and not do much. They had a vague goal, and that was it. I think it's fair to say the main goal was "to survive", and if you've ever had to write a character's motivation before, that's not something you want to say. This wasn't the tense, pillow-grip-worthy HUNGER GAMES survive either, this was just wander-in-the-forest-and-don't-get-murdered-by-crazies survive. I actually started skimming. And then just when it started getting interesting again, the book stopped. Finished. The end. Whaaa?
Lesson: If you're going to have a major change in the middle of your book (which isn't bad - I've done it in one of my WiPs), be careful to give your characters goals and motivations. They'll probably be different to the goals and motivations from the first half of your book, but they still need to be there. Just because there's madness and chaos doesn't mean you don't need to stick to those writing rules that will keep your reader interested.