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'The Last Observer:' Advance Book Review

You know that clique of guys who play Dungeons & Dragons a lot and are really into it?  You know that one guy whose character was a wizard who so desperately believed that if he roleplayed hard enough he would someday be able to fire-ball your a-- straight to hell?  You know the guy . . . in my corner of the world, his name was Stanley.  In England, his name is Dr. G. Michael Vasey (hereinafter referred to as “Doc,” because that’s what I call PhDs).


Doc wrote a novel (novella?) called The Last Observer, and if you think I’m about to lambaste it, you might be in for a surprise: it wasn’t all that bad.  The good Dr. Vasey is an interesting fellow.  According to the interwebs (specifically, www.authorsdb.com), Doc has written some 200 articles and several books in the Energy and Commodities industry, of all things.  He’s also got a couple of poetry books and several books about magic.  You can investigate further at the sites where he blogs, if you want: www.asterothsdomain.com and www.mystical-hexagram.com – or go to his website, www.garymvasey.com. I think you should check it out; it starts with an interesting article explaining the myth of global warming.

Anyway, so I don’t think he’s a great writer.  Literally, the first paragraph of his novel(a) (it’s only 125 pages long), includes the sentence, “He appeared to be capable of reaching inside of you, so that he could search through your entire contents without first having the courtesy to ask.”  I’m no novelist like Doc, but I think that referring to “you,” describing “you” as having contents, and wrapping up the apparent soul-rape of “you” with, “he never asked” . . . I dunno.  It just seems a bit awkward, inappropriate, and amateur.  If you agree with my assessment, then get used to this style of writing.  The whole “book” (novella) reads this way.  If you can get past the writing, you have one more bump in the road before you can start enjoying yourself.

Remember Stanley, my D&D guy from the first paragraph?  Stanley believed that archetypes ruled the universe.  The jock was dumb, the pretty girl was virginal, and there was honor among nerds.  He struggled with his life as a youngster. And, this isn’t autobiographical so F**k off if that’s what your thinking.  Anyway, Doc Vasey has the same view of people: one-dimensional.  There are six (seven?) characters in his novella, and they are absolutely one-dimensional – even the “twist” character is one-dimensional.  Bad guys are bad, good guys are good, nerds are nerds, etc.  To compound this problem, I suspect that Doc Vasey has imposed himself onto at least 2 of the main characters, so much so that some of their observations don’t resonate with a larger audience.  For instance, in describing a typical London cab, he wrote, “It smelled slightly of puke, vaguely disguised with the sickly sweet scent emanating from a card dispenser that hung from the mirror.”  Yep – that’s a vivid description, but it just feels . . . judgy and maybe a bit clichéd.  I don’t know if I’m explaining myself here, so if you don’t understand, read the book and you write a review.

So, crappy writing and “meh” characters . . . I know you think I hated the book.  I didn’t.  It was actually rather compelling.  Interesting story (if rather clichéd) about the boundary of science and “magic.”  He loses the thread once or twice, but I did find myself wondering what was next and where this was going, so I kept reading it.  Frankly, I think if the Good Doctor found a strong editor, this little piece of work would do rather well.  He ends it a bit abruptly leaves a few loose ends, but otherwise it’s a solid/imaginative piece.  I recommend it to those folks who are trying to understand such things as the God Particle and whether or not entangled particles violate the laws of physics with faster than light communication, etc.

On a scale of 1 to 10:

Writing: 4
Characters: 4
Plot: 8
Overall: 6

Enjoy . . .
Simply Jack

 

 

Favorite '80s Comic Series: Strikeforce Morituri
Favorite '80s Hairstyle: Mullet (also, Fe-Mullet)
Favorite Decade: '80s

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