Thursday, February 28, 2013

American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett

Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Publisher: Orbit
662 pages
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Note: I read an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC), so there may be some differences between my copy and the final version.

Description: Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map.

In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.

After a couple of years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother's house in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother's past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different... (From the back cover.)

Review: Definitely on the plus side for this book, the weird, nonhuman creatures, felt weird and nonhuman at times. This doesn't sound like a big deal, unless you've run across books where the alien creature never felt alien. They did feel human at times too, but given the circumstances they were living in, this is actually makes a certain amount of sense.

I didn't have many problems with the book. I did figure out a number of the surprises before hand, which made waiting for Mona, and sometimes other characters, to catch up a bit frustrating. Also, Mona seemed a bit dense at times. She doesn't strike me as a character who was intended to be so, but, for example, she needed the connection between someone being punished for breaking a rule, and the fact this person had had a seizure and dropped into a coma after telling her something, pretty much spelled out for her.

There is some inconsistency with the author's use of a set of plot important objects. Namely, that they can be gathered without effect while wearing gloves, but effect people when dropped on their non-bare chest. There is also a character who shows up briefly to reveal stuff, and is never mentioned again, who just felt too plot convenient.

While the ending does make sense for this story, it also felt like a bit of a cop out. In some ways it seemed more like the author didn't feel like leaving any loose ends, but didn't want to have to come up with other fates for certain characters.

I also found the author's decision to write in the present tense frustrating. I have nothing against the present tense, but since I don't run into it that often, it made it difficult for me become immersed in the story and occasionally threw me out. Obviously, this is a YMMV issue. (I have similar issues with things written in the second person POV.)

Overall, not a great book, but not a bad one either.

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