All fiction contains a seed of truth and sometimes that truth can inspire deep thought in the reader. That is good. Sometimes authors write fiction with the specific intention of bringing out a truth and making readers think. That can work as well, but only if the fictional part of the story is allowed to dictate when, where and how the truth emerges. And then there are times when an author is so fixated on the truth that he/she uses the story as nothing more than a limp carrot.
I recently bought a book that falls into the ‘limp carrot’ category. It was well written in terms of basic requirements such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, structure etc but it missed the mark completely in terms of story.
The author of this unnamed book clearly knew the theory – tell a great truth through the eyes of a fictional character – but he/she obviously cared more for the truth than the character. [To avoid tying myself into knots here I am going to call this character John.] Because the author did not really care about John, the inevitable result was that I did not care about John either and because I did not care I could not empathize. I read the words of pain and suffering but they struck no chord; I could have been reading a shopping list for all the impact they made.
And here is where the truly sad part comes in. Despite being highly sympathetic to the ‘truth’ the author was trying to reveal, my complete lack of empathy with John diminished my sympathy for the ‘truth’ as well. And that made me feel terrible, so terrible in fact that I simply could not get past chapter 2. I did try, a number of times because I hate leaving anything unfinished, but I simply could not do it. And that has made me angry enough to write this scathing non-review.
Please people! If you write fiction then please, please, please understand that the story and the characters must come first otherwise you give your readers no reason to CARE. And if we cannot care then your truths will wither and die.