I was given this book in exchange for an HONEST review. (Abbreviated review, full review found on The Review Board website)
Warning: Even though this may have slight spoilers, it doesn’t matter because the construction is a hodgepodge of horror.
When it comes to something being out the box, it tends to be something I gravitate towards. One of the main things I look for is something that is original yet entertaining. Although I was not originally assigned to this work, it had a few unorthodox qualities that warranted I at least give it a whirl.
I got whirled all right! Whirled into where I sought alcoholic solace, and I am not even a drinker. Usually I’m the DD (designated driver) while everyone else gets sloshed.
Let’s set the pros out here now because there aren’t many.
• Out of the box attempt
• Glossary at the end of the book
Appearance wise, Phantasy is the most atrocious display of syntax I have ever witnessed. I swear, some of the punctuation was made up. Dashes with ellipses. Exclamation points with ellipses. Commas with ellipses. (You get the point.)
This author has a love affair with ellipses. Almost every sentence had them. In the majority of the cases, a period was needed instead of all of the ellipses. Did periods and commas do something to where this author decided he would swear them off forever? Did he think he could do something experimental and make the reader’s brain work overtime to decipher his Morse code of punctuation?
Punctuation was not the only thing haywire in Phantasy. There was a gross exaggeration of italics and capitalization. Either one is used for the purpose of emphasis and importance. Both used in the same sentence continuously is overkill. The author would do much better just picking certain words or phrases to give spotlight to as opposed to big blocks of caps and italics.
Although the author claims the italics were to separate the narrator’s secret thoughts from spoken thoughts, in many places it caused way too much confusion and the lines between the two became blurred very often—within the same context numerous times. It would have been better to use a different method (utilization of spacing or even a different font) to make this separation clearer.
There were sprinkles of spelling errors in this work. (fully pointed out in the full review on The Review Board)
All of the major characters in this work I hated because they were annoying and they didn’t have proper names (which I’ll speak on later). None of the characters exhibited any growth in one way or another. The narrator’s Mom (aka Connoisseur of Complaints and Chaos) stayed cranky and argumentative without any real glimpse as to why she’s cranky and argumentative. The narrator’s Dad (aka Balls Serrated After Wedding Vows) stayed passive aggressive without any motion to rise to get out of his situation.
Dick (the name I opted to give the narrator because his lack of name irked me) shows no admittance, apologies or advancement in any aspect to his approach to anything or anybody. He demonstrates a total detachment from his own reality. His lunacy damn near drove me to want to get drunk.
In most writes, the main characters in the work have names. In Phatasy, the ones that have proper names are the supplemental characters who play little to no role besides someone for the narrator to spar back and forth with. Even if they are talking to each other, not once is the narrator referred to by his actual name.
The reason why the absence of proper names bothers me is because it is an indicator as to how well one can keep up with the dialogue. This is particularly helpful when the author switches from screenplay style to when the main character is working on the manuscript for Phantasy. In the manuscript itself, my brain almost hurt as I had to re-read certain lines over again to ensure which character was saying which thing.
It would have been easier for the author just to make a decision on whether to write this as a full novel or write this as a full screenplay. If he wanted to do a hybrid, then he should have ascertained the reader’s visual capacity at it pertained to proper (as opposed to imaginary) methods of syntax as well as sufficient white spacing in this work.
With its current anatomy, there is absolutely no unity in any of the thoughts. Not just with the dialogue but also in the actual manuscript Dick (the narrator) is composing. A pregnant ghost and an archangel are brought up but one has no clue as to what occurs with them next. There’s also an unexplained time warp and conflict thrown in the story that mimics B grade movies.
Summary of Suggested Improvements:
Less is More: One can use emphasis without going overboard. Tone down on capitalization, italics, exclamation points, dashes and ellipses.
Use punctuation properly: In way too many parts of the book ellipses, exclamation points, commas and dashes were used when periods would have done the trick.
More balance with setting vs. dialogue: There was not enough detail in the settings to counteract the over surge of dialogue.
Show rather than tell: There was no set plot and too much dependence on the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. This made it hard to get into the book. Even being out the box has levels of methodology to the madness.
Firmness in flashbacks: Either have an adjoining thread to the flashbacks or cut down on them, particularly the flashbacks within flashbacks.
Page count decrease: Due to so many different elements being present in this work, perhaps dividing it up into miniseries would have gone smoother. One segment: being about the narrator’s work and how he lost his first job. The second segment could focus on his conflict with his family. There’s just way too much going on to cover in just one book.
Name the central character: It provides (1) importance and (2) ease of tracking.
Provide a resolution: No part of Phantasy (the screenplay segments or the manuscript segments) gave any conclusion to anything. Think guy walking around with his fly open but no one ever telling him about it. As long as this work is (well over 200 pages) it was still full of the spunk of incompleteness.
Inserting slang terminology into glossary: There’s a word Dick (the narrator) has constantly used in the work, the word “hawker”. Yet in the glossary section, everything else gets a definition instead of that one and the dialogue provides no clear context clues to decipher the meaning.
Revamping of the Author’s Note: It is not a good move to alienate a potential reader just before he/she reads your work (i.e. “…only people with brains should read it”). Helpful disclaimer is one thing: hurling insults before turning the page to the first chapter is another.
Unleashed Verdict: 1 out of 5
I cannot recommend this read for all of the things mentioned earlier. Yet if you want tirades of complaining and randomness tossed together, you may see some beauty in this. Right now, I just want to fantasize that I didn’t read this and write a story about not reading this.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)