Tag Archives: James Treadwell

Being critical

I’ve done nice, in a Thumper-ish kind of way. If I don’t like a book, I will stop reading. If I can’t, I probably won’t review it. Though, having lost time reading something I didn’t care for, it’s possible to salvage something by blogging about it in a more general way.

In a week that began with Anthony McGowan’s much discussed negative review in the Guardian, and continued with Julie Bertagna’s blog, I have come to the conclusion that it might be time for a policy change. Not to slag off books, but to blog about them, warts and all. I have some way to go before I can do what Anthony did, because he got it just right (not having read the book in question I don’t know if I share his opinions), which requires skill.

What’s the verdict of my review of Advent yesterday? It’s a book I liked for the most part, and in the past I would have concentrated on that, while leaving a bit of a hole in the middle. I now feel that when I’ve invested the time, I shouldn’t do half a review. (Or should I?)

I remember the book by GPT some years ago, which I had to finish because I was leading a group discussion afterwards, only to find that not a single child in the group had bothered, so I needn’t have either. If only I could have that week back!

More recently I was grabbed by the description of a novel by a new author, except the story ended up going nowhere. By then I felt I might as well finish the book, and that’s when it turned out it was the first in a trilogy. So no review. Perhaps that’s where I went wrong? Maybe I should have shared my thoughts?

I tested this idea on the Resident IT Consultant yesterday. In no uncertain terms he pointed out that my review of Advent was negative. At least for me.

So where do I go?

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Advent

James Treadwell, Advent

This first part of a new trilogy begins most promisingly. James Treadwell’s Advent introduces troubled 15-year-old Gavin, on his way to stay with his Aunt Gwen in Cornwall, having been given up on by his parents and everyone else. I was very excited by this book from the moment it arrived.

The great start does however make detours into more boring country every once in a while, before leaping back to where it was. And thus it goes on. There were bits of chapters I wanted to prune. I felt I was being given information I didn’t seem to need. (I could be proven wrong, of course. Might be like the polyjuice potion.)

Gavin has had a secret friend all his life. And the woman he encounters en route to Aunt Gwen’s cottage has been hearing voices for as long. When Gwen fails to meet him off the train, weird things start to happen at an ever increasing pace. Things go bump in the night in Gwen’s cottage, followed by Gavin meeting some unusual neighbours. Not all of them as alive as you’d want.

There are some truly interesting characters in Advent. Most of them meet at some point, but remain surprisingly separate. I wanted much more from Hester, who is a tremendously promising character. And the boy Horace has so far been too marginalised.

You have your man-eating dogs and talking black birds (again) and mermaids and a strangely ancient man, as well as people rising from the dead. Evil seems to be returning to the world, after centuries of absence. The people around Gavin have something to do with this, but we don’t get a full explanation.

Advent has plenty of humour and excitement and I enjoyed the good parts enormously, while ignoring the historical flashbacks to Faust. There are a couple of lapses of point of view, and the 21st century shouldn’t mingle with the 16th.

SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING!

By the end I wanted to go on to read the second book, and that is when James went and switched characters with no warning, leaving me wondering about Gavin and co. The next lot seem interesting, too, but will the twain meet? Will enough threads be tied up?

In his Author’s Note James explains stuff, carefully ignoring all that I wanted to know. Oversight, or cunning?

(Do you want to win a copy of Advent? If so, use the Contact form at the top of the page – not the comments – to tell me about it. And we’ll see.)

Out cold

Or as the (Norwegian, obviously) pilot (many years ago) announced on landing the plane twenty minutes early, that we should please remember this and use it as credit against any delays we might encounter some other time.

I am fairly certain there have been days with more than one blog post from me. I am cashing in some of my credit today. As on many Boxing Days in the past, I compensated for too much time spent slaving over the dishwasher, by flopping and doing nothing more than watch television.

So, we enjoyed The Clocks with the ever nicely padded David Suchet, after which I remembered that I’d intended to hang on for the Dolly Parton concert on BBC4. Unfortunately I don’t work Nine to Five, but I Will Always Love You. Within reason. Obviously.

Before couch-potatoing all evening I started reading Advent by James Treadwell, which is looking quite promising. I know it’s the end of December, and Advent is over, but I don’t think it’s that kind of Advent. Besides, the book hasn’t been published yet. Very nice cover, for a proof. For a ‘real’ book too.

In between the above dubious activities I mainly lectured the Resident IT Consultant in the art of using lemon and honey for his poor throat. That’s despite him looking at my present (A Wrinkle in Time), while sitting in my chair.