Book of Days – James L. Rubart – 1/10 (DNF)

Book of days Summary: Cameron’s father, dying of Alzheimer’s Disease, instructed him to find the Book of Days, in which the past, present and future of every soul are recorded. His wife mentioned the same book in her dying moments. So Cameron sets off to find it when his own memory starts to fade, at age 33. In the tiny Oregon town in which he starts his search, he encounters some strange and strong personalities, who can only be with him or against him in his search…

I requested this through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, and it was my first successful request through ER. The blurb (and I admit I didn’t look any further than that when I requested) made it sound like a fun piece of thriller/adventure, along the lines of The Codex (which I recently read and enjoyed). Thus I was somewhat non-plussed about the categorisation above the barcode on the back cover of the book when it arrived: “FICTION/Christian/Suspense”. Fine, thought I, I’ve never read any “Christian” fiction (“Christian” in quotation marks because I would say that Jane Eyre and The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall are both pretty heavy on the religion, but would not be described as Christian fiction), I’ll give it a try.

I gave up after 100 pages. The writing was appalling, riddled with similes and metaphors: within a single page, we have:

“the tumblers inside his dad’s mind had magically clicked”

“he laughed like stones skipping on a pond”

“A disease that made Swiss cheese of his dad’s memories” *

“enough of those [tears] over the past six years to fill Puget Sound”

* this one I liked.

Seriously. One page. Further in, there were some strange phrases: “like watching a 3D movie without glasses” and “fairy-book marriage” (I’m pretty sure the proof-reader missed that one, surely it should have been “fairy-tale marriage”?).

The sentences were also generally too short, yielding a fairly childish tone throughout. The dialogue between the protagonist and his business partner was abhorrently puerile – this writer hasn’t quite got the knack of editing real-life dialogue for the written page.

The writing unfortunately got in the way of a promising plot construction. As is customary for this style of book, there’s a prologue set in 1853 at an undisclosed location with ethnically ambiguous names and a secret passed down through the generations.

Cameron’s father’s dementia is handled with sensitivity and emotion (it’s no surprise that the author’s father had dementia) and I thought the Swiss cheese comment was spot-on – Alzheimer’s is so devastatingly selective in the memories which remain. Cameron’s memory loss is faded-in delicately as well, and the emotional pain of losing special memories is very honestly portrayed.

I was quite looking forward to the love interest with a strange connection (Cameron’s dead wife’s foster sister, who clearly has some history with Cameron), but I couldn’t bring myself to keep trudging through the descriptive devices.

As for the Christian theme – I think I gave up before it really started, so to draw conclusions from this would be unfair. I’ll give it another try if another one turns up with a higher quality of writing.

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