Becky's Reviews > The White Mary

The White Mary by Kira Salak
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did not like it

This book suffers from the author failing to heed the cardinal rule of writing: show, don't tell. For example, we're told about the protagonist's murdered father and insane mother. We are never shown these people alive and relating to the protagonist. We're just supposed to swallow the scenario whole, and it doesn't work. The book's third-person-omniscient point of view doesn't help matters. At some point, we're inside the head of nearly every character in the book, being told what they think and feel.

Despite all the "telling," the writing remains imprecise. For just one of many possible examples of the imprecision -- at one point, the author describes a young government official as wearing a uniformly "solemn" expression, but a couple of sentences later notes that his eyes are darting around the room, which doesn't seem very solemn at all. The book is full of this type of garbled observation.

The characters are flat and expository. The romantic male figure, Seb, is meant to be sensitive and caring but he comes off sappy. The two characters continually butt against one other and never engage in a way that seems believable. Even when they're at their most comfortable with one another, they speak in cringeworthy, teenagerish pronouncements about how much they care about each other. The famous journalist Marika pursues tells her the story of his murdered son's decomposition, and somehow that story is lacks immediacy, lacks horror. It seems to have been included as pure exposition.

The closest the book comes to creating a real character is with the character of Tobo the witch doctor, who I found to be the only likeable character in the book.

Overall the writing is bland, and scenes that are meant to stir emotion in the reader (including, unfortunately, the torture scenes) simply do not work. Nothing really happens in this book, which would have been something very different in the hands of a more dynamic writer.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 24, 2008 – Finished Reading
November 27, 2008 – Shelved

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