Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Hidden Twin (2016)

The Hidden Twin (2016) by Adi Rule is a young adult fantasy novel exploring a young woman's discovery of her own power, her realization of that power, and becoming a hero through the use of her power.

That's all pretty typical of the genre and well within expectations.

My daughter picked this book out, enjoyed it, and invited me to read it as well, so I did. So for the age group that interested in these types of books, it works. For me, who isn't the target audience, the book was a bit of a miss.

The style of the novel itself threw me. Written in first person present, the feeling and intensities of the moment spring out, meanwhile, the settings and the other characters grew remote. Throughout the whole book, I felt removed from the action and the drama.

I often found myself saying "What?!" when the character goes through some experience, by every imagination horrible, then just throws it off like it wasn't a big deal. Hello? You just did what? To who? And you aren't freaking out? That incident wasn't a throw away incident, it was the hook for a entire book. Why did it just go elsewhere? If this had just happened once or twice, I'd shrug and go by, but this sort of thing happens through the entire book. So many interesting possibilities ignored!

I often wondered at the personality of the main character. I thought that her personality wobbled around quit a bit. The intrepidness and heroics were fine, you expect that in a fantasy novel, but I wasn't ever sure which person was going to come out for any particular scene.

Where I think that the novel fell down most was in its use of impressionism to build a sense of the setting. While excellent at the sentence level and passable at the plot level, the book often fell apart at the paragraph level. Rather than building up a picture of the place, the impressionistic descriptions often amounted to noise, neither giving me insight into the character nor building images nor making the setting into a character in its own right. Ostensibly, the book is steampunk, yet manages to make nothing of this fact. Sometimes I felt that the writer's MFA was just getting in her way of writing a good book.

As for the character internal journey, the book often begins a theme, forgets about the theme, then pays off the theme, which feels rather jarring when the theme jumps back into being. If the theme had really been that important, shouldn't I have run into that theme over and over again? Certainly. That sort of thing really made the ending feel less solid than it should have.

Beneath all of that is an interesting setting, both familiar and strange to the reader, that hold good promise, if the writer can only let it shine through as a character in its own right.