I am not lost…

August 15, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: THE LIGHTNING STENOGRAPHY DEVICE by M. F. Sullivan

Filed under: Reviews — R @ 5:00 pm
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I can’t for the life of me remember where exactly I found this book. I know it was a NetGalley book that got lost to the annals of archives, and I had to go back through and track it down again so that I could read it and review it. (Not that I’ve done a great job of that lately, but hey, we’re not talking about that…) This one had an interesting premise, that spoke to me as an author. The Lightning Stenography Device (or LSD as they so creatively acronymed it to) is a contraption you put on your head, and then the device takes your thoughts and pens them to the page. So literally you can write as fast as you can think.

Neat, right?

Mmmmm.

The trouble I had with this book is twofold: One, it was trying very very hard to be clever–and if you have to try that hard, you’re failing; and two, it was about three books mushed into one. Not that it was long, but that it had three completely separate stories which only mingled with each other by virtue of the fact that they’d been bound together. (Metaphorically at least, for my e-book copy.) All three stories were interesting, if a bit confusing to follow…but I’m not sure how they’re all supposed to fit together.

We begin with the creators of the Device, who realize that there are certain individuals who can use the Device while asleep, and have their unconscious create. Nifty! I’m okay with this so far. Stuff happens; spoilers, sweetie. Flash forward…an uncertain amount of time (it felt like it could be close to 100 years, but I know there’s not a chance for that to be true) and now we’re following Cassius, who is an author who has made some very questionable decisions in his life, both personally and professionally. We follow Cassius and his entourage, as he deals with whether or not he wants to have anything to do with this Device. Okay, fine. We meet one of the creators…maybe…and weirdness begins to pop up. Still fine.

Part three follows Cassius’s girlfriend Katherine. Still present-day (inasmuch as we’re in present day, I think it takes place in 2031 or so), still weird, still not certain about this whole Device thing. The stories told in sleep seem to be prophetic, and this of course sends everyone into a Ragnarok-esque disaster mode, doing all that they can to keep it all from coming about and in the process, doing exactly what they’re meant to do in order for the event to come to pass.  Katherine doesn’t want to read her novel. Etc etc. I’m still…basically following.

The final part of the book is where it entirely loses me. Part four, as far as I’m concerned, is a story entirely on its own and has literally nothing to do with the rest until the final sentences. I had a few ideas as to what it was at first, and then decided it couldn’t be that…and then maybe it was…? I’ll be honest, the last part was probably my favorite piece of the book, once the story had evened out in part four, until just before the very end. I’d read a whole book of just that.

And then at the end, it just feels like they toss everything up in the air and try for a Big Reveal™ and fall flat on their face.

I never want to step away from a book and say “please just let me be done so that I don’t have to read this anymore.” That’s not why I read. That’s not the goal. The three rules I hold to any piece of entertainment are these: What was it trying to do? Did it accomplish it? Was it worth doing?

Here are my answers. 1) It was trying to be a Smart And Clever Book. 2) No. 3) ?!?!?!?!

I can’t tell you if it was worth doing, because I don’t truly know what the author was intending from it. I like the idea of it all. I think the author has a nice way of words, and can structure sentences well. They’re a good writer–but for the purposes of whatever this story was, they’re a bad storyteller. Piecemeal yes, they tell individual stories well. But you can’t make a cohesive book out of short stories you decided needed to be together.

Starting back up with a cheerful one, right?

Rating: * (Forget It)

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