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The art of mediocrity
on April 24, 2012
The good price of the set and the good reviews got me to buy these books. I wouldn't go as far as to consider the money wasted, but I sincerely doubt I will ever read these texts again.
Both novels and the novella share common traits in structure and style: The author tries to pack the stories with action and morbid qualities, but he does it to such an extent and in such a way that it soon becomes saturated, unbelievable and -what IMHO is worse- predictable and boring. The plot twists he goes for seem many times desperate attempts to be surprising and original but fail completely as after the first couple you already know what to expect.
The gallery of characters was -MHO again- completely unappealing. I'm not well acquainted with Fifhth Avenue's jet set nor with international hitmen, and maybe Stephen King is right and the author truly is a "cultural genius", but I find it hard to believe that everybody is completely dumb, amoral, boring, spoiled etc... It's really scary to think even the "self-made men" who have supposedly worked their way to being powerful are really all so stupid.
There was not a single character I cared for, not even a little. Whether they came and went in the plot made absolutely no difference to me. I just turned the pages because I feel bad for not finishing a book and because - to be honest- I was curious to see whether I could guess the next "unexpected twist".
Some things really upset me: For one, the author focuses on some characters in ways that, if not sarcastic, are trully sad: One of the main female character complains she has never been given chance to succeed and uses it as an excuse to explain her mistakes. When she is finally given the chance (not even because she deserves it), the author keeps focusing on how she "intends" to show the world she can make it... but actually, if you count at the the end of the story the time she did invest in working for that respect, it turns out she dedicates little time at all. Pathetic, especially because the author seems to feel a special pride in the way she "prospers".
Another main character who should be extremely resourceful -being a pro killer- makes stupid mistakes that she does not even remember about and that lead to the -boring- novella.
The books also display other upsetting traits, not because the author puts certain attitudes in the book, but because they appear so often and in all circles that is seems they are his own ideas and not those of specific characters. To name one, all references to non-USA natives are deprecating and the books reek of chauvinism and condescension.
He also pays little attention to verisimilitude, and in some cases these "mistakes" deter from focusing in the action and makes the characters appear even more stupid than what they already did: For instance a secondary character is called "Lady Ionesco of Spain" and people "suspect she has bought the title". If the author had taken the time to research, he might have discovered that
a) The Spanish equivalent of "Lady" belongs to the female "Grandes de España" and must go with either "Excelentísimo" or "Ilustrísimo" before it (that is leaving aside the fact that most Grandes of Spain already posses other more important nobiliary titles).
b) Ionesco is not even a Spanish name, and since the "lord/lady" Spanish equivalents usually go attached to the land you were ruling over, it is hard to understand why someone ready to buy a fake title would go for a Spanish title with a Romanian name instead of a made-up Spanish name. I guess it could happen, but given the lack of credibility of other areas in the books, these kind of things only make the whole look even less coherent.
The amount of typos and the repetitive use of words and phrases becomes monotonous. Everyone, regardless of their role or origin seems not only to move for the same superficial reasons, but to even use the same forms of speech and even inhabit the same sort of buildings. Poor.
All in all, I can't understand the high praise these books got. They may be not terrible, and can well fill a couple of hours if you are not too demanding in consistency and if you don't expect to be too caught up with the plot or characters (that's the only reason I gave it a generous 2 stars); everything rains on you but slips off without penetrating.
There seems to be a fourth book coming soon -or already out-. I won't be going for it, and after swallowing three epsiodes of the saga I find it rather sad that I'm not even curious for the fate of any of the characters involved.