Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Ripper (Event Group #7)

This is actually one of my favorite angry reviews that I've done (yes, I know, a lot of my reviews skew negative.  I'm a realist).  I was clearly really mad when I wrote it and it was so cathartic to just let it all out.  Enjoy!





NOTE: Against my own better judgement, after tossing this aside in anger last night, I kept on reading it today. I wanted to see if it got any better (so far: a little better). All of my comments below still stand, but I am not done reviewing this one yet. Not at all.

NOTE 2.0: It is 9:20 p.m. I made it to page 200 and my brain has the consistency of scrambled eggs. It is also a very angry brain. Review below.

Disclaimer: I realize that these types of thrillers (super-secret agency + clean-cut, handsome hero + spunky heroine + nefarious organization + mystical secret/evil plot to destroy (insert target here)/ aliens) are not, generally, what one would call literary. I suppose you could call them a summer popcorn movie. Nothing too serious, nothing to analyze. Just mind candy, with lots of outrageous action, intrigues, and heroes with a signature weapon. I got it.

If your standard adventure thriller is popcorn, Ripper is like a viscous glob of high fructose corn syrup, contaminated with e.coli and coated with hairballs. It has no value whatsoever. I've read the previous entries in the Event series, and I liked most of them. I generally liked the characters and the crazy situations. Some of the later entries in the series, however, have definitely been lacking in the coherency department. Most of this seems to be due to the absence of a copy editor, or, perhaps (in true conspiracy theory fashion) a copy editor who so hates the author that he/she purposely sabotages the text. Or perhaps Mr. Golemon is merely allergic to the English language--specifically, to the tiny comma.

Yes. I admit that I am completely anal-retentive about commas, and probably more enthusiastic about them than I should be (and I fully admit that, due to Muphry's Law, I will make grammatical mistakes in this review). The utter lack of ... grammar in this book floors me. Whenever characters are addressing each other, for example, the commas are all missing. AWOL. Example: "I think I would have better luck finding the Ripper following you my dear colonel" (p. 9). This happens over, and over, and over again. "That was not the intent of my letter to you Chief Inspector" (p. 11). "Stay close to me old boy" (23). "Professor, you did not drink the whole of this did you?" (p. 27) FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, PUT A COMMA IN THERE! WOULD IT KILL YOU??? WOULD IT???

But this is not all, no, not at all! Other reviewers have mentioned that the dialogue can be cheesy or stilted, but that one shouldn't hold that against the book because, after all, it's a popcorn movie. There is a major difference between cheesy dialogue and dialogue that makes no sense because the words are not ... right. My favorite example of this occurs rather early on: "As for the viles of powdered solution in the secondary laboratory, dump them into the sand" (p. 48). Excuse me? "Viles" of solution? "Vial" is a container for chemicals, and "vile" describes the editing job. Good heavens. Words are omitted from sentences, sentences are merged into strange chimerical beasts ... won't someone please help this man?

I've not even gone into the plot, such as it is, for this book. Quick rundown: American government sanctions testing of poppy-distilled serum to create "Berserker" super-soldiers. This is in the 1880s--and the scientist developing them (inexplicably) jaunts across the ocean to London and begins the Whitechapel killing spree of Jack the Ripper. He basically Hulks up, pulling a Mr. Hyde, yet also becoming super-smart. Then he hides in Mexico, where George Patton (!!!) burns down his hacienda. Then the poppy mixture ends up, in a very roundabout and drawn out way, at the Event Group super-secret hideout near Las Vegas. One of the main characters up and resigns in the middle of the book, and no one really seems to mind. His girlfriend seems to be succumbing to the advances of their arch-nemesis ... really? Really?  

Look, I'm willing to give my "fun reads" a lot of leeway. I don't expect quasi-supernatural/sci-fi thrillers to be literary masterpieces or ultra-realistic, they had dang well better be in readable English, with no stupid mistakes, with believable character development/twists, and they had better not make me want to pull out my hair in frustration. And, for the love of Pete, will you please, please, please leave the "Jack the Ripper" trope alone?

P.S. One other thing I remembered: Early on in the book, there's a scene where Queen Victoria gives orders (via letter, I believe) to a subordinate, and the whole time she says "I" and "my" instead of the royal We. I don't think Queen Victoria would have not used that quirky bit of the English language.

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