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Saturday 16 July 2016

Alchemy by Mike Wood

The author of this book states in his end 'Credits' that he 'doesn’t honestly like writing'. And yet, he persisted for 346 very long, tedious pages it seems. He also pays tribute to his editor's keen eye for detail. Really? Hmm...

‘I had just went…’

‘Why don’t you where your shoes?’

‘Must of called in sick’

‘By dinner time, I had made up my mind to just peddle over there…’

‘I might get a peak at the upstairs’


…to quote just a few from the appallingly long list. There were missing quotation marks, bad grammar, characters starting nearly every sentence with ‘well’, inconsistent spellings. And...plurals are not formed with an apostrophe and an ‘s’. As for punctuation…not quite a ‘Let’s eat Grandma’ example but ‘Be sure to come right in Cammie’ wasn’t far off.

If a badly edited book really annoys you, don’t read any further. This book isn’t for you.

Editing aside, this book wasn’t for me simply because it was mind-numbingly boring. Al Newman is a fifteen-year-old teen, whose father left the family home one day and never returned. Refusing to believe he simply walked away, Al sets out to explore theories of abduction. He is helped by Cammie, staying in the area with her father for the summer period. Cammie is a beautiful young girl for whom Al falls hook, line and sinker.

This doesn’t actually get remotely interesting until Al finally learns the truth of his father's disappearance, which is over halfway through. The book could easily have been a hundred pages shorter. The first half overdoes the teenage angst thing while trying to hold your attention with the explanation of Newman Senior’s vanishing act (which I guessed early on).

Despite the fact that this practically put me to sleep every night, I stuck it out to the end. I liked Al. I liked his mother.  Although the writing isn’t prize-winning stuff, there’s a gentle humour and wit throughout. 
I got the feeling that a lot of the author was in Al...and Wood seems like a nice chap. So it does pain me to say that, regrettably, I can't recommend this.  I would recommend, however, an editorial overhaul. 

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