Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Book Review: "The Book of Fate"

The Book of Fate, written by Brad Meltzer, is a strange mix of Da Vinci Code story with Washington intrigue and conspiracies and backstabbing abound. Does that make it a good book? Not by a long shot.

Brad Meltzer, who wrote such books as The Tenth Justice and has dabbled in comic book stories with his work in the DC Universe, uses every cliche in his book. There is a mysterious group behind the events unfolding. Someone turns out to be not who they seem. Our hero brings his friends into peril along side him. Stop me if you heard this before.

The plot is so thin, it is better left up to the inside flap of the hardcover edition to explain it to you. It has something to do with a presidential assassination, but it's not that exciting. Suffice to say, it is pretty standard fare.

Meltzer employs a weird first-person, third-person dynamic to his storytelling. One chapter is told from the main character's, Wes's, point of view. Then the next chapter is about his two friends who are off trying to find something. This switch is off-putting at times and really detracts from the story. Meltzer should have probably stayed on third-person format throughout the whole story. We would still get the inner thoughts of the characters but without the constant immersion/withdrawl from Wes's POV.

Also, Meltzer writes his chapters really short. There are about 100+ chapters in a book only about 350 pages long. Again, with the shifting viewpoints it is really jarring to be reading one situation for 3 pages, then switch to another for 4. Some might say it builds suspense, but it doesn't leave enough storytelling space to build anything.

There also seem to be a lot of dangling plot points. The story seems to start off as a tale about a Masonic conspiracy, but that yields to governmental workings. The title, the symbols on the cover of the hardcover edition all make it seem like this is a Masonic tale. It is not.

For all the negative points, I have to admit I couldn't put the book down. Maybe I just wanted to be over and done with it, or maybe I enjoyed the book a lot more than I imagined. Still, I wouldn't recommend buying the novel and only begrudgingly say you should take it out from the library. I was disappointed by Mr. Meltzer's work.

2 1/2 Yawns out of 5.


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