‘Any resemblance to … is pure coincidence.’ Of course it is. Usually I don’t mind heavy borrowing from real life in a work of fiction. There is often a good reason and if used well there is no problem.
Now I do have a problem, and it’s not whether or not to blog about a certain book. I hope I can blog without giving away which book it is, since I don’t want to be mean, and this will most likely be a popular action/thriller book for a lot of young readers. It’s not out yet, and I only just received the proof in the post. I won’t be reading it, nor reviewing it, because I feel it has overstepped a boundary.
I suspected as much from the press release and by reading the first few pages and dipping into the book here and there. And then I found the Resident IT Consultant had read it in one sitting, since he wanted some light entertainment, so I was able to ask him for clarification on the details.
It’s about a real event, and one that maybe I know more about than the general public, which is why I was surprised to read the blurb in the first place. I assumed initially that the plot of this real event had been ‘improved’ by adding some adventurous children to make it suitable for a children’s book.
What has happened is that what the adults did in the real event, has now been done exclusively by the children in the book. What was heroic in real life has suddenly been taken away from the people involved, for fictional purposes. Is that OK?
I’m struggling to find something similar to make my point, but how does the novel about an Apollo 11 crew of three 13-year-olds strike you?
An author is welcome to model their plot and characters and setting on real life. But by using the real event, someone has first skimped on plot, and then they have taken away an achievement from those who accomplished the original deed. As for the setting, it strikes me that a little more research might have been useful. And since this is historical, it would have been worth considering whether things were done as we do them now, or if a past decade had a different flavour to it.
When I first saw the cover of the book and its title, my reaction was ‘Wow!’ and I felt it was right up my street. So much so, that I just don’t feel you can cheat quite this much.