I’ve finished reading about 200pgs of the young adult fantasy novel I am planning to write a review on this evening, the book I’ve griped about a lot already. This particular novel is in first person, present tense, with different narrators speaking in each chapter.
While all this is certainly not helping, I think it could almost work, if the author provided any context for the speaker, in terms of who they think they are speaking to, and why.
Are they narrating a slide show after the conclusion of the story’s events, with the reader present? Am I, the reader, in their heads, seeing with their eyes? But then why do the narrators sound like they are telling me a story, as if I am not right there in their heads? I’m still finishing the book, and will give the author the fair and honest review promised, and there are good sides to her book, but when the narration and time-sense in a book are off, they make the whole story harder to get into.
I finally gave up for a while this afternoon and picked up the C.S. Lewis book I borrowed from Mom, called Till We Have Faces. As it turns out, this book is also in first person, and starts out in present tense, but with just a subtle difference- the speaker sets the context in the very first page, that we are reading her account of the events. Oh, and of course there are those unexplainable stylistic differences that make many of C.S. Lewis’s fiction books so magical.
After the first sentence of his book I was drawn in, while with the review book I am 200+ pages along and still feel disengaged. Do I dare submit my own stories to comparison with such great, classic authors as Lewis? No. I expect that all authors, including the one who wrote the book I am reviewing, and including myself, must go through a process of development that includes writing books that are not perfect. It is not terrible that a young, still developing author doesn’t have the polish of the mature C.S. Lewis yet. But, even just for my own development as a writer, I do have to ponder what makes his writing so lovely.