11 May, 2008

The Janus Effect

The Janus Effect
Alan Cash

It has been less than two years since i read this book previously; let's review, why did i read it again so soon? It could have been one of a few reasons: It had a huge effect on me the first time i read it (The Shack); i didn't get all i could from it last time (The Bible); i loved the writing style and wanted to revisit it just for that pleasure (John Galsworthy); it was a really easy read and i'm a lazy reader (Agatha Christie). Any of these is an acceptable (to me) reason for rereading; the problem is that my reason doesn't really fall into any of these groups. The closest, i suppose, is the Bible group, that there was more to get from it than i did last time; but i would put it a bit more bluntly: I didn't really understand everything in the book last time, because it seemed a bit incoherent and needlessly puzzling.

All right, then, having read it again, what do i think? Well, i still have some of the same feelings of vague dissatisfaction that i had previously. I have learned since reading it before that Dinas, the imprint under which it is published by Y Lolfa, is their self-publishing unit, though not quite (as i understand the term) a vanity house; the book does show evidence of slightly poor copy-editing ~ at one point one character's name is clearly accidentally substituted for another, a sigh elsewhere is spelled with a zero instead of a capital 'o' ('0hhh' instead of 'Ohhh') which looks odd on the page ~ though certainly not enough to affect enjoyment of the book. The biggest drawback, i fear, to this style of publishing is that the publishers are less involved and it is a less urgent task for them to polish the story and make it as clear and saleable as they can. In this case, that means that the plot is a bit more convoluted than it ought to be, with a couple of the characters really being superfluous to requirement (Elnac and Bartok seem to be little more than deus ex machina characters, introduced early as simple, but not consistent in that characteristic depending on the need Cash has for them), and some of the conflicts between characters not fully developed (Camille and Veema, for example) or explained. In addition, the ending seems to be more of an ending than a resolution; perhaps reflecting a belief of Cash that life doesn't resolve, even with time travel.

Overall, how do i feel having given the time to the book again? Well, not badly ~ it wasn't wasted time ~ but not altogether happy, either: I would be happier with a bit more understanding of Cash's purposes, which seem hidden in the convolutions of plot, or with a bit more polish and professionalism on the dystopic themes. The ultimate test, as far as i'm concerned, however, is whether or not i would read another book by the same author, if i knew nothing about it other than the author. Here, i have to admit, The Janus Effect passes the test; if Cash writes again, if Y Lolfa publish, i will certainly read.

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