Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Phantom's Fixation (JJ Paul)

In The Phantom's Fixation, Paul tells the story of a woman who once aspired to be a marine biologist but now chases adulterous spouses, troublesome tenants, and the like. Things get more complicated when a new breed of clientele emerges: the dead.
  • Overall: 2.3      ҉
  • Plot: 2/5
  • Originality: 4.3/5
  • Language: 1.5/5
  • Believability: 2/5
After her father's death, Nina Davidson takes over his private investigation firm. As she struggles through the grieving process, trial comes in the form of a series of supernatural cases, culminating in the kidnapping of a child by a ghost.

This novel had a lot of potential. The supernatural component was interesting, and the layers of deceit were stacked quite high. Unfortunately, the support was rickety, resulting in an unwieldy tower in which I was unable to place my trust. While the "great reveal" proved that the links between people and circumstances were less tenuous than initially suspected, there wasn't enough foreshadowing or randomly scattered hints to give me any any sort of satisfaction. Nina's supposedly logical conclusions were difficult to follow, and I eventually gave up.

It is rare for me to experience actual ire towards a novel, but I found the wording of this novel pressed all of my literary buttons at once. Sentences were oddly written, without continuity of subject or structured patterns. In every other paragraph, I was rereading to make some sense of one phrase or another, or I was glazing over a blatant grammatical error for the sake of my own sanity. It took me forever to decide whether the "I's" instead of "I'm" were intentional or accidental. My conclusion was that there are better ways in which to spend my time.

There was also a movement carried out by a character that is described by "ethnic", which is not only unclear but also carries with it the potential to be unintentionally offensive. With a bigoted protagonist, that sort of comment makes sense, but Nina does not seem designed to be racist. Or perhaps she was, since she found it necessary to mention the race of nearly every person whom she observed or confronted. Tying in with the extraneous information were intricate descriptions of clothing that did not add towards character development but did detract from my interest in the plot.

The Phantom's Fixation could have been a fascinating and engrossing tale. With untenable explanations and underdeveloped subplots, however, the end result falls far short of its mark.

(Review copy provided by the author)


J.J. Paul said...

Ouch. Actually, those "I's" are deliberate. That's the way West Indians speak. I have family who speak that way. I'm not sure what you mean by "sentences were oddly written," since this was professionally edited, but I am curious. Sorry you hated it, but thanks.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree, it was poorly written.

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