Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Promise Me Eternity by Ian Fox ★

I was asked to review this book by the author. The premise definitely sounded intriguing, so I agreed. I’ve been reading this one in small chunks here and there for nearly a month now, and I wish that I could say that it was a great book... but it just wasn’t.

I didn't care for this book, but I think that it had quite a bit of potential to be very good. The writing, the details, the stiffness of the story just didn’t get it anywhere close to where it should be. There was far too much erroneous side information given, far too many characters, and things just seemed to take far too long to actually get going in the story. The first 50 pages barely even nudge the door open on the story. We’re taken on rounds and visit quite a lot of patients, but the story wasn’t even close to starting at that point. We’ve met a couple characters, but it doesn’t really provide any useful information. I’m OK with side information… when it serves a purpose. It didn’t here. It was just unnecessary filler, and when it comes at the beginning of the story, I start worrying.

The dialogue throughout was stiff and unnatural, and the characters never felt like real people to me. When the main character’s wife is murdered, all I felt was a sort of relief that I wouldn’t have to listen to her nag anymore. She was greedy, selfish and immensely irritating. I know quite a few women who are just like that, but that doesn’t make it realistic or good. There was no depth, no personality, no life in the story. It was like cardboard cutout marionettes, with bad voiceover actors doing the dialogue. I feel harsh saying that, but it’s true. There’s the brilliant scientist on the verge of a breakthrough if only he wasn’t stuck in his tedious middle management neurosurgeon job. The fact that he actually, petulantly, threatened to let a patient die because his boss wouldn’t fund his science experiments made me seriously want to throw the book against the wall. The fact that he even thought it is a violation of what makes people go into medicine in the first place – the desire to help people. And further, the fact that his pet project is an anti-aging drug, I felt like it was both hypocritical and completely superficial at the same time. He wants to help people live longer, right? So he’s studying within his field to try to find a cure for illnesses of the brain, right? No. He’s making glorified botox.

I didn’t get it, and never really warmed to this book at all. This could have been a book much more worth reading if it was edited and trimmed down. This is over 400 pages long, and in my opinion, at least a quarter of that should have hit the cutting room floor. There’s just too much going on, and it became distracting. So, overall, this was not great, but some work could get it closer to it.

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