Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: "Kings of the Earth" by Jon Clinch

I liked the concept of this book a lot. Clinch does a good job with characterization. I like how the characters emerge a little at a time. The level of the narrative is amazing in places, but I gave up on the book without finishing it, because it was just too taxing -- for summer reading anyway.

My main beef with book was that it had too many narrators. The book Bloodroot had a lot of narrators, too, but I loved that novel. (My review is here.) The difference is that Greene stuck with one narrator for each section of the story, and every one of them had a very distinct voice and perspective on the trajectory of the plot. The narrators in Kings of the Earth switch too quickly for the reader to get used to their distinct voices and points of view, and -- maybe for that reason -- they are difficult to distinguish from one another. It's kind of like watching a movie where the scenes cut so rapidly that you can't really tell what's going on. That may work for a short, suspenseful section of a movie, but it didn't work for me in a full-length novel.

I couldn't get past the difficulty of switching points of view so often, and without a strong narrative voice to make me feel safe.

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