Friday, October 9, 2009

UNREVIEW: "Lowman" by J.T. Vargo

In my entire life there have been ten accounts of books I didn’t bear to finish. Eight of those have been assigned to me during my high school years and one of those was before I started doing reviews. However during the short run as a review blogger I have never given up on a book, although I have felt the urge on a modest number.

But there is a first time for everything. As a reviewer, I strive to behave with a certain level of professionalism, which means finishing the review copies I receive and post timely reviews. I am the person, who doesn’t give up on a novel, but not a long while ago I realized that I have too many paperbacks and ten times more this number in e-books I am obliged to review. Next to these two groups I have my own copies and reading list that far exceed the genre limits that speculative fiction has set for me as a reviewer. Life is too short, the novels are too many and no matter how professional I try to be I can’t waste precious time with books incompatible with me as a reader.

“Lowman” by J.T. Vargo challenged my patience and after a 100 page struggle I decided to call quits and I didn’t drop it because the prose was incompetent and flawed. Technically, in the most basic sense of the term, “Lowman” is solid. Beyond that the pages are barren and here are the reasons to drop the book:

A: “Lowman” is not horror, no matter what the label says. I realize that there is horror and then there is horror, but no horror novel would let the reader wait one hundred and still have no clue when the chills are going to come.

B: “Lowman” is slow paced, painstakingly so. I felt that the author has taken an ordinary plot and went Matrix on it. Pages upon pages upon pages present scenes that do not matter one bit and hint no connection to where the ‘horror’ is supposedly, which is still MIA.

C: “Lowman” is a social novel with a philosophical look upon human relationship in general and how much the current age has corroded the brotherly love between people. I support this type of illumination, but not when it’s done so poorly that the characters become cardboard posters and their internal narrative reaches the point I am sitting through a preachy sermon.

Admittedly there are other flaws that come through in these 100 pages, but I do not wish to dwell too much than necessary. Fact is that if you have discovered that your taste in fiction is similar to mine, then you’d best avoid this one.


Mark David said...

Wow, you counted all of them? Impressive memory :) I also hate when I fail to finish a book because I'm totally put off by what I've read. I've learned, however, that sometimes reading free excerpts help... sometimes. At least that helps me filter out books that are written in a style that I simply wouldn't like (since literary quality and narrative form is very important for me).

Mihai (Dark Wolf) said...

I had great difficulties with this one too. And although I finished it, I have to say that it took me great will and several points when I really want to stop reading it.

Harry Markov said...

@ Mark David: It's so few and I had panic guilt attacks afterwards, so I did remember. This one I accepted way back in the beginning of my blogging, when any kind of review copy is worshipped. In fantasy and horror and other spec fic genres like sci-fi too these are not as important. The suspension of disbelief as well as world building are looked upon more often than not.

Harry Markov said...

@ Mihai: I have read your review way back in 2008 and that discouraged me of reading in general, so it took me awhile to get to it, but obligations have spoken and I decided to flash read and be over with it. It was a very straining experience.

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