Following the journey of award winning author, Alex Azar, as he travels the publishing world and all things interesting. To reproduce or publish any material found within this blog, please contact me at azarrising@hotmail.com

Friday, January 24, 2014

What I'm Reading Now 1/24/14 UPDATED

After reading several flops that I couldn't get past, or in some cases even up to, page 75 I was tempted to reread a book I know I like.  In the end I decided against this, and chose a book that was a recent addition to my list of to-read books, "Sandman Slim".  The premise seems promising enough to be worthy of doing a "What I'm Reading" post on it.  The main character, presumably Sandman Slim (odd name) is a magician that escapes Hell to exact revenge on the group of people that sent him there.  So basically this guy never died but was sent to Hell, finds a way to get out and uses magic (either he had it before or gets it in Hell (the description I read wasn't clear on that)) to kill a bunch of people, probably also magic users. Sign me up



Stay with me to see if I stay with the book, or tap out at 75 pages.
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And I finished the book.  Not because I enjoyed the book, or because it was written well, but I pretty much finished the book because it's the kind of book I should like.

It wasn't a bad book per se, but the major flaw with this was the author kept getting in the way of what could have been a very fun read.  Richard Kadrey, whom I had never heard of prior to this book but is apparently a decently well know author, has since written an additional four novels in this Sandman Slim series, with a sixth due out this year, so clearly there is a market for his writing.

However, I found he tried way too hard to not only make the main character cool, but also to come off as cool himself.  He went to great lengths to describe scenarios or action or even emotions in such a 'badass' way that it felt heavy handed.  It was a case of "the lady doth protest too much".  The more Richard tried to make Sandman Slim, or James Stark, seem cool or tough or badass it just felt like he was overcompensating for some flaw only he sees in the character.

Another thing that bothered me was the character's name, and the name of the book.  The main character, for much of the book, didn't want people calling him by his name, because with magic knowledge of someone's name is power.  I get that, it's a trope that works, and one that I agree with using.  My issue with it, is that he doesn't offer an alternative.  There are books/movies/shows where we don't know the main character's name and it's never used.  That's fine, but here we know his name is James Stark.  If we know it, it's not a mystery, and shouldn't be a major factor, however if you want to make something of his name, and it's not a secret, an alternative needs to be provided.

By now you might be wondering about the title.  The name Sandman Slim isn't mentioned until after halfway through the book, and it's a nickname that James Stark received while fighting in the gladiator arena in Hell.  Apparently, it means, or represents, 'the monster that kills monsters' or something to that affect.  The problem with this is, other than the fact it was mentioned so late in the book, is that a lot of characters know him by this name, but he never heard of it.   There's no logic in it.

All that said there is good in this book.  The premise is fun, even if Kadrey tries his best to kill all of it.  And although you never really feel or care of Sandman, it's enjoyable enough to watch him stumble through the mysteries before him.

There were two end scenes that are polar opposites.  In the one, the main character is talking to a doctor that knows more than he's let on in the beginning of the book.  And there's real emotion in the scene, and it's pretty intriguing, unfortunately it comes at the end, and is only followed by a worse scene where Sandman is approached by Lucifer himself.  It's established they have some history from Sandman's time in the arena, but Kadrey successfully crafted the most boring interpretation of the devil in all of existence ever... ever.  Why in the name of fuck's sake is the Devil borrowing DVDs? How do you make Lucifer, the Fallen Angel embodiment of all things evil, about as intimidating as a three legged newborn puppy?  Kadrey set himself up with a great way to end the book, and instead decides for the first time in nearly 400 pages to not try and be cool.

I shan't be reading the rest of this series, but am not disappointed I've read this one.

Writing this, has made me like the book even less, so my new rating is now...

Chapter 2 = One and done.  The book's premise showed potential, but the writing killed any upside before getting to the second chapter.



Reading this book I learned that Richard Kadrey suffers from an ability to execute, unless we're talking about actually executing any chance of writing an enjoyable story.