Burn Slowly, Fabio Casto

Burn Slowly, Fabio Casto

Burn Slowly (Original: Bruciate Lentamente, translated Sarah Jane Webb)

I really hate having to quit on a review read. Unfortunately, Burn Slowly was one of the ones I had to give up on. Part of the trouble I had with the story was the use of language. While it was fluently translated from the original, the narrative style was so densely-worded that the pace of the story was almost brought to a halt, and even deciphering what the story was, was challenging. For the record, my first language is English, but when I’d got a third of the way into the book, and still hadn’t come across enough to indicate whether I was reading a science-fiction tale, or a thriller, or the hallucinations of an unhealthy man on drugs, or even where any of the three options might be eventually headed, I’m afraid I stopped trying. To my regret, there is only so much time I can spend on forcing myself to read something I’m not enjoying.

From what I was able to gather, the book may have had some strong points if my stamina hadn’t given out at the pacing. Among other things, the author had clearly done some research into ancient legends to support his book; the characters were definitely well-fleshed out. It just wasn’t enough to persuade me to keep pounding my head on the prose.

Hijo de Xavier, Inejiro Koizumi

Hijo de Xavier, Inejiro Koizumi

What happens in Los Volcanes, Or, Hijo de Xavier

Set in a semi-dystopian future in which the United Nations has taken over government of most of the world, the main story elements appeared to be lucha libre, the details of male costume dress, and the male’s absolute entitlement to any female who catches his eye.

While the initial idea had a lot of promise, as far as I could see its only role in the book was as a backdrop, which was disappointing. I managed to get a third of the way through the story, and then spot-read the rest, in the hopes I was doing the book an injustice, or missing some subtle satire that came through in the later pages, but unfortunately nothing leapt out at me.

Aside from the near-complete lack of plot, the switching around from third person to omniscient and the omnipresent explanations of what a given character was thinking or feeling, as opposed to showing the reactions, added to my difficulties with the read. In addition, the fight descriptions were way over the top to a point that had me shaking my head, which I doubt was the intended result.

This was only the second book in a year that I had to leave as a Did Not Finish. I try really hard not to abandon a read; I know how much blood, sweat, and tears authors put into their books, but unfortunately once in a while it does happen, and What Happens in Los Volcanes, Or Hijo de Xavier was one of those reads for me. The setting was original, the basic concept was good, and the story itself, sadly, started turning me off about ten pages in and never pulled me back.

Four Weeks, Kunal Roy

Four Weeks, Kunal Roy

Four Weeks

From the exterior view, Four Weeks contained some of the staples of a traditional sci-fi story – aliens, threats of destruction and conflict.

Unfortunately, once I opened the book up, I was washed off my feet in a flood of adjectives describing that apotheosis of humanity, the computer student. Our twenty-year-old hero, about to complete his doctorate, equipped with abs and a chiseled jaw to make Michelangelo lay down his tools in despair, also coincidentally has a stunningly beautiful girlfriend, who is also (coincidentally) about to complete her doctorate in the same topic. I’m afraid that the sheer perfection of the main character shot the plausibility of the book down in flames as far as I was concerned pretty much on page one.

Four Weeks also has a tendency to combine slang with a rather formal lack of casual contractions in the dialogue, giving the faintly unnerving impression that the speakers are octogenarians experimenting with colloquialism. Combined with the point of view slips between the omniscient and the third person and the continual descriptions of trivia, the writing continually got in way of the story for me.

However, our hero’s admirable ability to watch his mother be killed, and bounce back to build a house from scratch with no money in the space of an evening and still have time left over to design alien-killing weapons to save the world in the same day is impressive. Sadly, my resilience wasn’t as remarkable, and I had to leave this book as a ‘did not finish’ at about 15% complete.

Four Weeks cover

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