Friday, March 8, 2013

Review Me Twice - Stuck in Estrogen's Funhouse by Shayna Gier

This book wasn't really my cup of tea.  I feel like it was directed and maybe an older audience than me.  I'm not at the age where I'm having kids and hormones are doing weird things to my body, so it was hard for me to relate to the main character.

Marti was probably the best character in the book, with the possible exception of her best friend.  She was fleshed out and was going through something out of her control, which anyone can at least have an idea of.  Sometimes, we all go through something that's out of our hands, so in that way, she was a good character to follow along.

However, there were a few things that made it hard to really get into the book.  The first was probably that I think this book just needs a good edit that it didn't really get.  Which, can be difficult to do as a writer.  I know from personal experience, it can be hard to tear your book apart.  But this book had a lot of things that were irrelevant to the story or things that started out as a good point but seemed to get out of the author's control.  Also, the research in it was a little weak.  There were a lot of incorrect facts that could have been corrected by just a simple search.  But, like I said, most of this falls under the editing category.

The book has some good roots and starting points, but I just felt like it was a work in progress more than a finished product.

My Bottom Line 2 out of 5.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I don't do chick lit. I don't read it; I don't write it; I generally don't like it. It's not you, chick lit; it's me.

That said, I still think there's something missing in this book. Conflict, mainly. Many people don't realize this, but narratives are more formulaic than you might think. Maybe some of you saw this diagram in English class at some point:

You start with exposition, which teaches you the basics about the setting, who the characters are, and how they fit together, relationship-wise. The rising action builds up to the climax, with minor conflicts and foreshadowing. The climax is where the Big Thing happens. Falling action brings us back down, usually with steps toward fixing the problem that arose during the climax, and the resolution is where everything goes back to normal, or the problem is solved, or some less happy ending is brought about.

I feel odd making this critique, because I have the same exact problem in my writing, but there is way too much rising action, and the climax, falling action, and resolution are crammed into the space of about two dozen pages (out of 134). I feel like I'm more aware of this problem when reading an e-book (like I was with this  book) because I have the page counter right next to the "next page" button, but it's still a problem.

I like that our characters are fairly normal people, without being typical-normal. Marti's schedule is weird because she's a bartender. She's the main breadwinner while her husband works on starting his career. These are normal things in today's life, but based on a lot of "modern" fiction out there, you would think it's still as unheard of as applying it to the Cleavers. So I applaud that.

This novel was written for NaNoWriMo, which - as we all know - means it was written hastily. In the afterword, Gier mentions that it's not a perfect final product, but it is better than the pre-edited version. I agree with Cassy that it needs another solid editing (there are some spelling, punctuation, and half-of-a-sentence-being-repeated mistakes) but it is fairly put-together.

And once more, I repeat: I don't like chick lit. It feels like a friend - who wouldn't really be my friend - telling me all about her woes regarding lovers and hormones and girly stuff, which I would quickly tire of, and start yawning and trying to point out how early I have to get to work the next morning. It's not a topic that grips me in the least. I do know some people who would like this type of story, and I think they would probably enjoy this one.

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