Overpriced, exploitative and irritating-a poor read

From Goodreads
From Goodreads

I will tell you straight away I disliked this book-strongly. Gabrielle Lord’s Conspiracy 365- February hit pretty much all the wrong notes with me. Lord seems to have had an idea, which she then attempted to milk by publishing 12 books on that one idea. As regards the plot-what plot?-there was nearly no development in the story line as the attempt to string it out over 12 books leads to each individual book having a lot of drama and action but little actual plot. It’s all very exciting, but it seemed poor. I’m sorry to lambast a book in this way, but this was poor.

Teenager Callum ‘Cal’ Ormond is being chased by gangs who want his knowledge. Knowledge of his father, and what his father discovered about ‘The Ormond Riddle’, but all Cal has to go on are his father’s cryptic drawings. Does he decide to trust the mysterious Winter Frey who saved his life?

The novel was far too commercially minded-a series where you have to buy twelve books to get the complete plot? It’s a publishers dream. If you bought them all, it would be a cool £71.88. This is an outrage and exploitation of the consumer at the highest level. No-one minds buying a series-Harry Potter is probably the best series of all time-but such an advantage seeking one with 12 books is, to my mind, a huge mistake.

When I began reading the book, the things that struck me were the font and the page numbering. The font, especially for headings, was not to my taste (and that’s putting it mildly), it looked like someone had been playing around on Word (even though we’ve all been there, it looked unprofessional). But my big format issue was the page numbers. Backwards. Really? Just-why?  Was it a mistake? Was it counting down to something? If so, what? There are 10 more months/books. If it was a ploy, all it did was to bemuse me and confuse me when I wanted to find my place again. The only thing I can say for it is that it did mean I could see how much more I had to read, which is a blessing and a curse. But the entire point of page numbers is that they go numerically upwards as the number of pages goes upwards. It’s a system that has been used for centuries, and it works. Why change it???

The book relies heavily from the opening on the reader having read the first book. I hadn’t, so was left playing catch-up for about half the book trying to establish what was going on. I learnt more from the back cover afterwards than I figured out in the first third of the book.

In general I prefer it if authors don’t try and force readers to buy the next book by ending on a cliffhanger, I prefer JK Rowling’s method of ending each book individually but having an over-riding story ark. If there is a cliffhanger at the end, the reader gets none of that satisfaction of having read a good novel, but instead feels let down and deflated.

I hugely dislike some (read-most) of Lord’s techniques for portraying characters. One of my pet hates is when an author is too lazy to use anything other than a stereotype-a stupid blonde, or, as here, an aggressive redhead. Here is one of the passages from the book:

The red-head’s unforgettable voice was loud and distinct, strong and aggressive

Resorting to such stereotypes is lazy and one of the worst literary techniques, not to mention offensive.

For a moment, imagine this. You want to kill an annoying teenage boy. You’re the leader of a gang. How do you do it? Shooting? Knifing? Strangling? One of the above followed by burning/burying/disposal in river? Does leaving in a tank of oil which is filling up, and will cause drowning strike you as an efficient and logical means of murder? Me neither. But this is how the book opens. It’s such a bizarrely melodramatic scene which seems more scripted for television-or a Bond movie-than a book trying to be vaguely realistic.

For all its faults, Conspiracy 365-February was mildly entertaining, and even comes above that perennial classic of watching paint dry. Realism Sarcasm aside, it was quite a gripping read, if you can overcome its many faults you will find an action packed story which seems straight out of Hollywood. But Lord needs to discover the difference between what works well on a screen-explosions and melodrama which can be watched with minimal brain engagement-and the page, where the reader wants something with a plot they enjoy. Which, if you hadn’t already gathered, this didn’t have. I found it, quite simply, poor.

Opening words-

The stinking sump oil gushed out of the pipe on my right, relentlessly filling the underground tank I was trapped in.

Character development-better than most aspects, but characters lacked life-★★½

Readability-actually quite good, no better than your average thriller, but not up to serious analysis of events- ★★★

Overall-I tried to like it, I really did. But I looked at the list of faults, against what was essentially the only good point-the fact that it was readable and interesting-and decided that the good point was what books should have as standard, not as a redeeming feature. Lord’s writing suits television, so it’s a shame that she wrote a book-★★ (40)

Agree? Disagree?

I’m afraid my verdict was scathing, but have you read Conspiracy 365-February or other similar books? Did you agree or disagree with my review? Please leave a comment or contact me, I would be interested to discuss it. Otherwise, please share with the buttons below and rate this.

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