Whoa...this is considered Christian Fiction? Really? Well, huh...just goes to show how much I know. Anyway, Barnes and Noble sucked me in by giving me...moreWhoa...this is considered Christian Fiction? Really? Well, huh...just goes to show how much I know. Anyway, Barnes and Noble sucked me in by giving me the free sample (the Prologue, which is deceptively, darkly wonderful) and with the super-cheap price on the Nookbook version of "Listen", I foolishly dropped the dollars for the rest of it. The book was founded on some really great ideas, and suffers from terrible development and delivery. No worries though, it was a great way to waste my time for the holiday.
Overall, it reminds me of a novel I tried writing when I was in my early twenties. I took a convoluted true story involving a lot of my friends and a plot that was dubious at best in real life, unbelievable in fiction. I changed the names of the players to reflect their real names/faces but conceal their true identity and then I did my best at rendering each person's viewpoint in painful detail. I stayed true to the story, cramming in as much of the truth as I'd understood it. When I re-read the text later in life, it was horrible. Nothing flowed. It was stilted, stuttering, awkward. And "Listen", much to my dismay, reminds me of my painful experiment in authorship.
Generally, I dislike giving low reviews without any greatly detailed reasoning, but this novel doesn't stir up any energy with which to rant and rave at the disappointment that this book created. I can muster the energy to explain just a couple low points for this novel.
One, when we are introduced to the characters, they each are transforming themselves. We get a tiny peek at who they used to be and a great big look at their current state of flux. Instead of telling us that a character used to be a certain way and that their current state is just "so" unusual for their character, show us. Show us who they are, and then guide us through their transformation, so that we can see they are acting out of character. (Examples: Kay going all chameleon to fit in with the cheer moms, Damien transforming from op-ed to investigative reporter, etc.)
Point Two is personal preference and nothing that can be quantified solidly; the names drove me up a wall. Principal MaLue, Gavin and Damien are WRETCHED names for adults; I didn't buy them at all. Especially Damien, as a thoughtful, intelligent, responsible adult. Now, the Caydance and other kids' names, yeah, I get that; lots of parents my age are giving their kids "naymes" that make us all cringe. I just had a really hard time remembering which character was which, especially when the author was throwing names around; one paragraph was full of names (Eddy, Lou, Damien, Frank, wait, which one's Eddy again?) that I had to stop reading, go back a page or two to try to grasp some sense of identity for each character. Maybe it's because there were a lot of characters with lots of intimate details for whom I had no fondness/investment?
And yet, I didn't hate it. It was okay. I won't tell all my friends about it. I just wish it'd been handled MUCH BETTER and developed in a way that it really made me think about the obvious (and overstated) message from the author.(less)