23 February 2012

Review of The Clockwork Giant by Brooke Johnson

I just finished reading The Clockwork Giant by Brooke Johnson on my Kobo. It's a good first novel, but it could have been so much better. This reads like a second draft, not a polished manuscript.

Petra is an engaging, relatable character most of the time. I cannot say the same for Emmerich; I really didn't like him at all. He keeps waffling on the important things, changing his mind about what he wants. Petra deserves someone better, someone who can give her all of his heart.

Many turns of phrase in the novel are awkward and/or overly simplistic, 'telling' rather than 'showing.' I don't think there's one complex sentence in the whole thing. This does make it an 'easy read' for those who don't really read or for whom English is a second language, but I found it frustrating. I like my reading material to have a mixture of complex and simple sentences, to break up the text and give it some interest.

It feels like the author sometimes manipulates the plot to make the characters do some things that don't really fit the picture she's created previously. Petra forgives Emmerich way too easily for the stupid things he does, and another character changes sides without enough motivation.

At one point, a character is burning to death, and she carries on a calm conversation with another character, ignoring the pain of the fire in her flesh. This is completely impossible, as this pain is probably worse than anything she could have ever felt or imagined before; there is no way she'd be able to speak clearly and intelligently.

There are some wonderful descriptions of the city and university, and Emmerich's 'copper eyes' are referred to numerous times, but I have no idea what Petra looked like. I tend to do this in my own writing as well, so I notice it as I'm working on it myself: there are too few descriptions of characters. We should 'see' the story, not just be told what's going on.

I enjoyed finding out what happened to Petra, and I think the plot was very good. I'm looking forward to Ms. Johnson's next novel; I'm sure her skills will be sharpened and her writing will be improved with each successive piece she creates.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Campaigner! Sounds like a miss for me on this book - as I would have the same issues you did. I have found, too, with many of the YA books I read that most could use a few more edits. I wonder if this is how publishers are cutting corners?

    Round One results and in for the 50 First Lines contest and Round Two just started.