Friday, August 12, 2011

Darwin's Blade

Darwin's BladeDarwin's Blade by Dan Simmons

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Accident reconstructor Darwin Minor gets into an accident himself. It turns out people are gunning for him. But why? With the help of beautiful FBI agent, sydney Olson, he's going to find out...

Dan Simmons is one of the more versatile writers active today. He can write in any genre, from science fiction with Hyperion, to horror with Carrion Comfort, to crime with Hardcase, to this, a thriller.

The Good:
Darwin Minor reconstructs car accidents, trying to prevent insurance fraud. It's a pretty good occupation for the main character in a thriller to have. He's smart without being annoyingly so and his Vietnam past as a sniper gives him added depth.

The action in Darwin's Blade is fast and furious when it happens. The car chase near the beginning was one of my favorites of all time, in books anyway. The shootout at the end was also quite spectacular.

The Bad:
Here we go. I realize that all thrillers have the obligatory hookup between male and female characters but this one felt really forced. Like Simmons thought "I have a thriller so I'd better introduce an attractive female for my main character to fall in love with." Like I said, it felt forced.

The other gripe that I have is that Darwin's Blade, to me at least, seems really wordy for what it is. It's about 100 pages longer than it should be. I don't need six pages about how Darwin's sailplane works, nor do I need three or four pages that are mostly equations. The philosophical bits, while interesting, didn't add all that much to the story except for Darwin to have something to talk about.

Elmore Leonard has his ten rules of writing:
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
11. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

I'd say Darwin's Blade breaks about half of them.

I'm sounding too negative. Overall, I liked Darwin's Blade enough to give it a three but not enough to not convert it to store credit at my earliest convenience. It's good and Simmons fans will want to read it but if you're only going to read one Dan Simmons book, it shouldn't be this one.

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1 comment:

  1. I must say, I'm stunned at the volume of negative reviews of this book posted here. I, too, am a huge Dan Simmons fan, and I think this is the best book he's ever written.