Friday, 20 January 2012
Hitchers and I got off on the wrong foot. In this world of ebooks, it's even more important to make an impact with the first chapter, as many people will just download a free sample before deciding whether to part with their hard earned cash. In this instance, I would have walked away. Finn's wife is introduced, a confrontational woman, yet she falls to pieces in the face of a storm and some long grass that she thinks might contain snakes. She is abruptly killed off and to be fair, this isn't something I was disappointed with. Whilst not a fully formed character, I didn't like her much. The main problem was they were paddling down river in a metal canoe when the storm started. Thinking metal containers are pretty safe things to be in around lightning, I asked around for other opinions and the general consensus is that the canoe would have acted as a Faraday cage. Yet still, she died from a lightning strike that hit ground on the opposite side of the river.
So maybe that put me in a mood to enjoy the book less. Whilst the idea was good, I found it all a bit bland. Two years later, Finn goes on a date and reveals he isn't over the death of his wife however as a first person narrator, the grief should have been felt through his words. The only reason I knew he was grieving was because the reader is told outright. Finn has other friends die and he just seems to get on with it.
It's a quick read although some scenes are a bit too rushed and are left unconnected to the following plot. If someone tries to kill you, wouldn't it stay with you a few days? The anthrax attack also appeared to be over in record time, with only a lack of Snickers bars in the shops to show for it. Other times Finn would just come to a conclusion that happened to be right but without much leading up to it. Altogether it read like a first draft instead of a novel in the final stages of publication.
McIntosh's vision of the afterlife shows potential but I think it is forsaken for the conflict between Finn and his Grandpa. Grandpa feels a little too much like a caricature of a cantankerous old drunk and there is no leeway for any kind of compassion towards him. It's all very black and white.
Will McIntosh is not a new writer however his critical acclaim has mostly been for shorter works of fiction. Hitchers sort of has a feeling of small episodes strung together into a novel. There are some parts that gave me pause for thought and I would certainly be tempted to read some of his short stories.
Hitchers is published by Night Shade Books and will be available in hardback from 24th January 2012. I received this book to review from the publisher via NetGalley. It has been reviewed in a more favourable light at Staffer's Musings and Bibliotropic if you want to read other viewpoints.