Now, to start a book review with those words is either a whole lotta bad or a whole lotta good. Let me be upfront—it’s no the latter.
If you follow this site at all, you know that I like to share what I’m reading with my four fans (I have four now. Yay!). Originally, I shared the current book I was reading which was Greg Cox’s Iron Man: The Armor Trap. Well that task is now finished.
For this review, I was a little more thorough, particularly because I want to learn how to write and how not to write when I read. So my observations are more specific than in past reviews.
Woo. Where do I begin?
Let’s start at the beginning with the overuse of a writing device—using italics to signify the thoughts of the characters. This is a common writer’s device in novels but just like any device, it can be abused and abused it is in this book. In Iron Man: The Armor Trap, is used more as filler than actual characterization. It was used when a description had already been given making the thoughts redundant.
For example, on page 152, here is what was written:
As he watched the young woman and her uniformed companions, coughing and retching all around him, he couldn’t help wondering what her story was, how she got mixed up with a Psycho organization like A.I.M.
What’s a nice girl like you doing in a hidden undersea laboratory like this?
What’s wrong with this picture?
Here’s the setup: War Machine is fighting a female A.I.M. agent. In the above scene, he writes asking what a girl like that was doing working for A.I.M. then turns around and adds a thought from War Machine that said almost exactly the same thing. Redundant and extraneous. Say one or the other. Plus, the thought is just corny. Having a hard time believeing Jim Rhodes thinks like that and I have many Iron Man comics.
The device was probably used so much because of its use in comic books. The problem with that is even though they are used, they are used to actually move the story along or add insight into the character when used correctly. There was way too much frivolous use in this novel. Very hackneyed. The medium is different so it can’t be used the same way and have the same effect.
The use of extraneous words was a common malady. This is partly the writer’s fault for not catching it in the rewrite and the editor’s fault for not catching it before it went to press. This happens in too many places to count. Page 150, 185, 278. I didn’t chart every offense. These were just the ones that were glaring and coupled with another. The moral of the story for the writer: only use the words you need.
Another writing affront comes in the improper use or non-use of pronouns. This bothered me to no end. He kept repeating their name when a pronoun was what was needed. It had been established who was in the scene and no one else had been introduced. You don’t need to keep saying the character’s name in every other sentence. It’s patronizing to the reader and you do not want to do that. Many will notice it like I did and may not be motivated to read the book. Don’t sabotage yourself.
All was not bad. For example, during a battle with A.I.M., War Machine gets hit with a barrage of plasma beams. The result is that the impact knocks his head against the armor and his nose starts bleeding. I thought that was a good touch in understanding how difficult it can be to control the armor as well as add a touch of believability.
However, the bad far outweighed the good on this on. Fact checking misses (like calling the Statue of Liberty’s torch a lamp), grammatical errors, unwarranted profanity use (you guys should know my view on this by now), and bogged down action sequences. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I’m finished. I learned a lot of what not to do in my writing when reading this book.