April 17th, 2010


quick book review: Justine Larbalestier's LIAR

I read Justine Larbalestier's YA novel LIAR, about which I've seen a number of people raving. I'm sure you'll be stunned to find that I didn't like it much; I found it intensely boring until a certain point, and then found it mildly interesting until I got grumpy with it again at the end. This is not because the book is terrible, but because Larbalestier has a writing style that I've seen a lot of in recent years and find deeply annoying: Evocative Monotony.

Evocative Monotony isn't about the story -- not the plot, not even so much the characters -- as much as it is about the emotional effect of the prose. The fiction I go nuts for can have evocative prose, sure, but it produces the bulk of its emotional effect at a remove, by using the characters and what's happening to evoke feeling. Evocative Monotony, on the other hand, is all about prose stylings; it's intended to induce the emotional effect in the reader directly, with less regard for what's happening on the page.

My problem with this approach isn't that it's ineffective. It's that it's unvarying. Hence the "Monotony." For me, this kind of writing induces *one* emotional effect, usually a certain level of angst, and then stays there throughout the entire course of the piece. It doesn't change. It's confining, and it's boring. LIAR made me feel a certain way, sure, and it kept me feeling that way, and it didn't make me feel any other ways.

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