I’ve recently read and in one case quarter-read two Blockbuster books by which I mean they have great five-star reviews [hundreds] and have sold well.
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a novel, set in England about a plague which not only wipes out the population but creates a fearsome sub-race of zombies who will eat any living flesh in seconds; the writer calls them Hungries. The story revolves around four character tropes; the hard-bitten seen-it-all soldier; the lovable [brown] innocent teacher, couldda been a nurse or some other empathetic female character; the brainy totally focused scientist, in this case a sexless woman and a child, in fact the Girl with all the Gifts; ten-year old Melanie. I honestly have never read a book about zombies; watched Buffy as I posted recently but I didn’t actually realise when I was watching it that it was about zombies but, there you go.
[Well-written by someone with a degree in English from Oxford] Plot hole after plot hole follows. The Hungries can smell fresh flesh and can come running in a nano-second so our little band of characters are provided in the novel with a cream that they can apply to hide their scent. The cream runs out. Why would a novelist do that? To provide conflict? Why introduce scent and smell in the first place? As ever in popular thrillers the writer make the aliens/zombies/ Al-qaeda warriors/ whatever invincible, nothing and no-one and no weapon can destroy them. But they do and always in the nick of time. Why bother making them invincible in the first place? Tiresome, tiresome stuff. The soldier-guy has a mobile phone. In a world of nothing.
I read it, right to the end didn’t skim. Someone whose opinion I respect said it was a must-read but, not for me.
DEJA DEAD is a crime novel set in Montreal, also with many, many good reviews. Pretty much hated it. I bought it second-hand and for all the wrong reasons. I’m well on with my third book about Kikarin and in this one there is a chapter where she visits Montreal. I’ve been to Montreal but it was a long time ago and I wanted to read some crime-fiction set in Montreal so I could try and get a sense of how police and the court system work. But this is a terrible novel, overwritten, over-detailed, lurid to the point of gratuitousness. She was stabbed with a knife in the vagina, a very long knife, over and over WHILE SHE WAS ALIVE being just one of many examples. Do people read this? It would seem so because it has consistent four and five star reviews on Amazon. Grisly, some reviewers say. Grisly? Grisly? I have absolutely no idea what draws people to this. I would struggle to sit at my desk and write it, let alone read it. Terrible.