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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

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Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
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Bert Mendelson
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James Gleick
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The Complete Plays and Poems
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Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
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Progress: 410/638 pages

Dinocalypse Now, Chuck Wendig

Dinocalypse Now - Chuck Wendig

Or Disappointing Us Now as I have re-titled it.


It appears that Wendig has a background in the games industry and that this book is based on a tabletop roleplaying game.


This is seems to make sense considering Wendig's strengths and weaknesses as a story teller as evidenced here.


The big plus is imagination.


The big minuses are everything else:


Writing style, characterisation, plotting.


The single sentence paragraphing is really irritating so I will stop inflicting it on you now, but you will have got the idea. It's like he was never taught the function of a paragraph. The Jane Austen half a large page of small print paragraphs I've subsequently been reading are muchly superior. As is the characterisation. Wendig seems to think one stereotypical trait and another stereotypical motivation is sufficient - for any and all characters. Nobody here is anything but a one dimensional cliche and redundant love triangles that don't affect the plot don't help. There are also too many protagonists, so that after an initial sequence that hangs together well, we are led off into a swamp of different locales and characters that is difficult to wade through. It comes together eventually for a decent enough finale that is then thrown away on an enormous cliff hanger that prevents anything at all being resolved. There's also a certain amount of Luggage Syndrome.


The thing that prevents this falling squarely into one star territory is that one strength mentioned above: imagination. The whole idea behind the roleplaying game is the recreation of the spirit of the pulp adventure stories that are exemplified by such things as the Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Sherlock Holmes and Allan Quartermain books. Recreation with an added heavy dollop of self-aware silliness, that is. In this the book succeeds and it creates some wonderful visual imagery that made me think this would work better as a graphic novel. Bad prose would be both less obvious and less of a problem and the crazy visuals (e.g. dinosaurs and lizard men, talking gorillas and other primates, giant gem-like gates to somewhere else) would be emphasised although the plot structure and characterisation would be unaffected. Just look at the cover to see what I mean - a book full of that kind of thing would be entertaining.


Ultimately, though, as a novelist, Wendig fails (at least for me); I'm only likely to read Beyond Dinocalypse, the inevitable sequel, if it more or less falls into my hands, which is unlikely considering that the books are published by an indie outfit branching out from its game making core business. The idea of playing the game this is inspired by appeals to me more - and if you consider this one giant advert for that game, well, in that, Wendig perhaps succeeds.