Monday, May 28, 2012

The Other Dark by Ronan Gallagher

Title: The Other Dark
Author: Ronan Gallagher
Length: 3164 Kindle units
Rating: 1.5 stars

The Plot

Everything in Court’s life seems to be going wrong all at once. His father was laid off a few months ago, so the family is struggling to get by on his mother’s retail job. And things get even worse when his father declares that he hates the entire family and is moving out. Court has to move to another house on the other side of town, across the street from a juvenile delinquent. And to top it all off, there is a strange rash of murders in town, where bodies are turning up drained of blood.

The Good

The Other Dark made a valiant effort at discussing serious issues. Court’s parents were both recovered alcoholics, and they were dealing with the difficulties of limited income after his father was laid off from his job. There are characters who have to deal with crippling disfigurement and how getting along in society is difficult for them.

Court has a great relationship with his five-year-old sister Jocelyn. Since his parents waver in their responsibility and availability, Court has been one of the few stable things in her life. The way they care about each other is really quite sweet.

The first few pages of The Other Dark were actually humorous. I found myself laughing at the absurd depiction of a driver’s ed teacher and his penchant for yelling and using the second pedal. I am sad to say that the book only went way, way downhill from there.

The Bad

Most of the books I read to review for my blog are pretty good. Some of them need polish or some plot elements reconsidered, and I know I tend to nitpick, but most of them books really are okay. Every once in awhile, though, I find a book like The Other Dark that is, very sadly, just terrible. Sometimes this at least means that I can write a bad review that will entertain my readers who like it when I trash books, but in this case, I don’t even really know what to say.

The book is not well written; the sentences are choppy and don’t flow well. A lot of the paragraphs contain three or four sentences that say the same thing with different words. The dialogue is not particularly believable, and calling the series of events that comprise the book a “plotline” is being generous. Basically, a lot of random things happen to different people, and we are not even told about them in order, which makes it really hard to follow what is going on.

The “main” plot of the book deals with a series of murders in town. Mostly what this means is that Court reads about the murders in the paper. He thinks about what was going on in his life at the same time as the murders and briefly suspects his father.  He later sneaks into the victims’ house with his friend John, which they are doing for fun even though the entire thing terrifies them. Then a whole bunch of other stuff happens that has nothing to do with the murders, until Court “solves” the mystery by magically knowing all the complicated factors that went into it without any evidence whatsoever.

The Romance

The Other Dark doesn’t have much going on in the way of romance. Court befriends a woman in her early 30s named Stephanie, but clearly the age difference there forestalls any romance happening between them. He also has a number of emotion-laden conversations with his friend John that lead me to believe they might be some romantic undercurrents to their relationship, but I think they are just supposed to be “true friends.”

Will I read more?

I think that The Other Dark is a stand-alone novel, but it will nonetheless be a long time before I will be persuaded to read anything by this author again.

See Details for Book on    Amazon    


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