Sunday, May 17, 2009

This is not really a review of Slipping--Cathleen Davitt Bell

I got this book in the mail a really long time ago. I didn't really know it was coming, so I hadn't promised anyone a review to come soon. So I put it near the end of my TBR list. This was a good decision on my part, as I read many books before it that were really great and amazing. This one, not so much.

Michael will be the first to tell you: he barely knew his grandpa Kimmel when he was alive. And he didn't know the details about the big fight between his dad and his grandpa that made the whole family stop visiting seven years ago. And if you never really knew someone, and nobody ever talks about him, then you probably won't miss him when he's gone, right?

But when his grandpa dies, Michael's gut tells him that the cold, detached way his dad is acting isn't normal. Just as Michael recognizes that his own bizarre cravings for things like oatmeal and creamed spinach and a nice big cigar aren't normal either. Michael suspects that his grandpa Kimmel might be reaching out to him--or through him. But figuring out what his grandpa wants is a scary though, since it will require getting to know a man who was impossible to talk to when he was alive. As Michael begins to slip with his grandpa into the mysterious river between the living and the dead, an even scarier thought occurs: if Michael can't get out again, will anyone miss him?

Well, I know I won't.

I barely even made it half-way through this book before I had to set it down and stop reading (this is why this is NOT REALLY A REVIEW). It was slightly unbearable. It wasn't that the writing itself was that awful, or that the story was an uninteresting concept--in fact, the premise alone intrigued me when I first read the summary on the cover flap. It was that there were many minor things wrong that really, in the long run, aren't minor and are the first things a writer should check when editing.

One of these things was that the setting was completely unclear. I assume Slipping is set in New York City, but there are many allusions made to it being set in London, possibly, and it is never specifically stated that it is set in New York, but I just came to assume that that is the city Bell writes of. But you know what they say when you assume. I could be completely wrong. Another thing is that the main character is not defined enough by the time he accepts oatmeal as a breakfast food for you to realize that this is a strange occurrence. All you know by that time is that he didn't know his grandpa Kimmel (alright, we get it! Stop telling us that!), he loves video games, and that his father is absent during the days and works late (And the last doesn't even have to do with Michael himself, just his father and the way his family behaves).

I can give Bell this: She knows how to withhold information. The only reason I got even as far as I did was because the one thing I was even remotely interested in learning about this situation was why Michael's father and grandpa didn't speak anymore. Of course, I didn't even learn that before I closed the book for good.

I'm not the fastest reader ever, sometimes I'm even a little slow because I want to pace myself, but it took me nearly two weeks to even get through eight chapters of this book, and that is less than 100 pages. That shows how uninterested I was in this short-lived novel that is soon to be erased from my memory. That is, if I can get it off my bookshelf without feeling terrible about peddling it off to some poor reader who will have to endure it like I tried to. Of course, some might enjoy this book. I just didn't.

Based on what I read, a single cup of coffee for this one, but that isn't an entirely educated rating, since I didn't finish. Because I didn't finish, you can completely ignore everything I just said and formulate your own opinion. This is just mine.