Thursday, May 17, 2012

Orphan's Gold by David Loeff

Title: Orphan’s Gold
Author: David Loeff
Length: 853 Kindle units
Rating: 3 stars

The Plot

Now that he’s finished the 8th grade, Virgil only wants to travel out to Colorado to meet up with his miner father. But when he finally gets permission from his uncle to join a party and make the trip, he learns that his father has disappeared during a cave-in. Determined to find out what happened to his father, Virgil digs through the rock until he finds the place where his father was last seen. But as he goes deeper in the mine, he finds a strange chamber with a magical power that lets him travel to the same place… in different times.

The Good

Orphan’s Gold is an interesting little story – and I mean that literally in terms of “little story.” It’s the shortest work I’ve reviewed so far, and I would hesitate to even call it a novella. It chronicles Virgil’s quest through four or five different time periods, beginning in the mid-1800’s and traveling back to caveman days and forward to the present day and beyond. The story describes how someone in their mid-teens was perceived in different times. As time moves forward, Virgil is given less and less responsibility even though he remains the same age. I thought the naïve way that Virgil interpreted times foreign to his own was particularly well done.

The Bad

I would have to say that my biggest issue with Orphan’s Gold is, to use an oft-quoted phrase, “I don’t get it.” Most stories have some kind of theme or message attached to them, often something as simple as love or loyalty. I have no idea what the reader is expected to pick up from Orphan’s Gold. There are a couple of morals that make brief appearances – rape is bad, people should use cleaner energy sources – but none of these pull the story together as a whole. I feel like the lesson is supposed to be that one of these times that Virgil travels to is optimal, but I’m really not clear on which one it is and why it is best.

I also had some issue with perspective in the story. For awhile, we’re going along seeing things through Virgil’s head, and then suddenly we’re not. And it’s not really clear that this transition has taken place. Then we seem to alternate between the viewpoint of no one and Virgil’s girlfriend Argoura. We eventually get back to Virgil, but we keep flashing back to Argoura, even though the two are in different times. All in all it was confusing and made the story less smooth than it could have been.

The Romance

When Virgil is back in what I am going to call caveman times, he befriends a girl named Argoura. They are both in their mid-teens, which means that they are undergoing the rites to become full adults. However, the way their relationship is described made me question whether they were really mature enough for the responsibilities involved. They kept thinking about being friends and spending time together in a way that seemed naively unaware of the mechanics of or even desire for a romantic relationship. So while I feel the romance was meant to demonstrate how mid-teens were considered adults in this culture, all I could think was that they didn’t seem any different than today’s teens in terms of their ability to take on the responsibility of a relationship.

Will I read more?

I’m pretty sure that this is a stand-alone story, which means that the real question is whether I would like to see more of this author’s work. I’m not a huge fan of short stories in general, mainly because I don’t feel like I get enough to tell whether I like it. Of course, there are those who would say that a great writer can make even a few pages compelling. I’m not entirely sure that I believe that, or that someone needs to be a writer of that caliber to capture my attention. Regardless, there is not anything in Orphan’s Gold that makes me particularly eager to come back for more.

See Details for Book on    Amazon 


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