To be fair, which probably doesn’t mean anything at all, I really wanted to like this book. But perhaps I should stop beating around the bush and dive right into Herbert and Asimov. I’m very glad I borrowed it from the library instead of spending a single penny on this book, “The Reality Dysfunction” by Peter F. Hamilton, because I would have greatly regretted such a gesture. When I read the blurb that it was a spaceopera, I didn’t imagine it to be such a literal interpretation–to put it plainly, it’s a scifi soap opera. In my most humble and worthless opinion, I will list all the faults I found. I don’t doubt Hamilton’s talent and creativity, but some things I am not fond of in books (not to include the use of “padding” across the floor, “nuzzled” his hand, or “lapping” on his feet). May I say if I wanted to pick up something similar to this, I could just get a sleazy romance or an atrocious zombie thriller.
- I give him credit for trying to be as technically accurate as possible. He didn’t have to overwrite every descriptive paragraph, nor did he have to start the book off and prattle on about technical talk for the first twenty pages. I know some people read science fiction just to criticize how inaccurate or unbelievable the technological advances are, but there is overdoing it. It is fiction, people. Sure, anyone can go overboard, but I don’t agree with going out of your way to make it as accurate as possible. Less is better. Let the anal nitpickers figure out how it works.
- That was another thing that I didn’t really like: his biomechanical aspect, that the Edenists are an “enlightened” advanced humans who are perma-linked to their ships, which are part-organic part-mechanical–yes, their spaceships grow and talk to their linked human partner. A creative concept, but not one that I found intriguing.
- Speaking of “enlightened,” Hamilton’s conjectures about religion and the concept of God and “God’s Brother” and all that mumbo jumbo was very pretentious and annoying. So I don’t agree with everything he said, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but the way he projected his opinions was very preachy and condescending. Perhaps he was just giving the viewpoints of the Edenists, but judging how short his cutscenes are, how abruptly they ended, they didn’t leave much room for assuming what I assumed (that they are Edenist’s opinions). I am of the conviction that one mustn’t place their political or religious views into their storywriting, no matter how liberal or conservative or middle of the road. If the author must, then make it known that it is of a character’s opinion or place it in a conversation. Hamilton didn’t do a very good job at being subtle.
I am not prejudiced against certain religious and political viewpoints. By all means, believe whatever you think is right or makes you feel good, but don’t use your fiction novel to give lectures or tell people how they should live. It’s a sure way to lose some of your audience.
- This should have been the first bullet. Take out all the sex scenes and steamy courting and flirting, and you’ll lose about a third of the book. After the third conquest of Joshua (one of the main characters), that’s when I began to get the impression that I was just reading a soap opera. It’s as if some horny teenager (who coincidentally finds some things very entertaining while most others won’t) decided to write a book and have their male character have sex with every female character he comes across to make up for his losses. And there you have Joshua. Having sex with every female and their mother. I lost count how many women he was with. It was ridiculous. When the final scene of the book is about a character having sex with someone he claims to love (which you know by then is a complete lie), it makes the book seem as if it were all about the sex.
- So I’ve introduced you to the gist of one of the “main” characters of the story. Well, Hamilton spends the most time with him because he’s the one getting all the bedroom action. There are about 3 other main characters (who hardly interact with each other), and an endless barrage of secondary characters of which you’re never sure if they’ll stick around or not. Why does he spend so much time describing a character that you never see again? I’ll never know. First, you meet one of the MC’s mother, then you read of the child’s growing up, and then you don’t see her again for at least another 100 pages. I don’t get it.And to top it all off, he spends so little time with each character, there’s hardly any real time spent building sympathy for them, nor do you really understand their motives till much much later on. Horrible character development…and you know how high I hold character development above all other aspects of writing fiction.
- So being that I prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven stories, it suffices me to say that his long narratives about the universe and how this came to be and how that came to be, his opinions on this, how this thing works, what that thing does, which would amount to another third of the entire book, became completely irking. I have nothing against world-building. Do it, by all means. Writing should be fun. But it just seems that he uses all the wrong methods to write. When you’re writing a story, you shouldn’t really be spending whole sections on inane descriptions. Especially at such an early time in the novel where the reader is absolutely and utterly confused, or the reader could care less because it is just way too soon in the story to be seriously curious.
I give it a 2 out of 10 stars. 2 because of the time and effort he seemed to put into it, though not very well. Everyone who writes gets at least a 1 out of 10 stars though, of course. 1 for trying.
What would I have done? Picked 2 or 3 MAIN characters, and stayed with them. Get rid of all the sex scenes. Make the threat believable instead of possessing dead bodies and making them transform into serpentine creatures. Monsters and aliens are scary enough, but the most scary nemesis’s are humans. Get rid of the whole galactic descriptions and high-tech explanations. All right, so Hamilton would lose about 300 pages of his 500+ page novel, but then he would have a story that more people could like. Trudging through that book was like being in a horrible mire surrounded by screens showing soft-core pornography and morbid violence.