In recent months, I have read a number for fiction/thriller books that were translated from another language and were outstanding. For instance, Dark Days (as well as the other books in this series) by Manel Loureiro are some of the best examples of imagery and character development that I have seen in the post-apocalyptic genre over the course of the last several years. Game, by Anders de la Motte, however is slow, stylistically uneven, and literarily clumsy
I am not sure if this is due to a bad translator or a bad writer, but the book is desperately in need of a revision before being read by American audiences. For instance, the narrative pops in and out of colloquialisms and cultural references that would confuse the average reader. Either being consistently European or consistently American would offer a balance but the terminology seems to shift back and forth. The dialogue is most places is stiff and seems to rely heavily on vernacular and the profane language to get across the simplest of ideas.
While the foreign setting is interesting and potentially fresh to an American reader, the author’s use of detail is stark. This minimalistic approach might be engaging if the description in the prose connected with the reader’s senses or more. Perhaps the author could even try to incorporate analogies that would incorporate more western audiences. Unfortunately, the lack of imagery, analogy, and foreground makes it hard to connect with either the protagonist or the setting.
What the author does seem to have a penchant for is conflict. Much of both the story and character development comes about in the shifting internal and external conflicts the character has with society, other people, and himself. This helps to make the character and situation more realistic; however, it does not create any sense of cathartic connection between the characters and the reader. In short, the characters are realistic but not likeable.
The overall structure and style seems to be overtly simplistic. It has an inordinate amount of short, choppy sentences that become intrusive and counter-productive to the flow of the book. The overall idea is interesting and my hope is that the only problem with the book is that they took the lowest bidder for the translation contract: A problem that could be rectified in later books. If you can wade through the language difficulties you may be able to enjoy an inventive storyline with some interesting twists; however, if prose and style are important to you there are better choices out there.
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
The book for this review was provided free of charge by Atria Books through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and notNetGalley.com or the publisher.