Last week I blogged about being happy that a book I read lived up to the hype. Today I'm sad to report that this one did not.
I love the premise: one day, the world wakes up to the scientific announcement that the earth, for unknown reasons, has started spinning more slowly. Days and nights become longer. No one knows why, or how to fix it. The book is narrated by 11-year-old Julia, who watches her life change in so many ways, some expected, some not: there are still bullies at her middle school, there is still a boy she wishes would talk to her, there are tensions between her parents that don't seem to have anything to do with the spinning of the earth; there's the confusion over how to organize a day when the length of the day changes constantly, and there's the division in the community when the government orders everyone to retain a 24-hour clock but some choose to live by "real time".
All great stuff. I loved seeing the dystopia start at the beginning. In other dystopia that I've read, society has completely changed by the time the book opens. It was refreshing to see a different approach.
But I felt the book could have gone a lot deeper. Many of the characters are one-dimensional. At times, the background story of the earth's slowing feels forced into the text to remind the reader that there's a big change going on while Julia wonders why Seth didn't talk to her at the bus stop. There was frequent use of not-at-all subtle foreshadowing that became tedious. The ending just sort of--ended. It needed more, for reasons I can't go into without giving spoilers.
I'm going to go out on a cranky frumpy middle-aged limb here and posit a theory. Over the past year or so, I've read several books that had gotten a fair amount of hype and acclaim that disappointed me (and other readers I've talked to). The disappointment is of the "the writer can write, but this book shouldn't have been the final draft" kind. Interestingly, all the ones that come to mind for me were first books written by attractive young women. It's as if the publisher said, hey, she's good looking, we can market her. In every case, I would definitely consider reading the next book they write in the hopes that their writing has matured. Whatever happened to the idea that the book itself was the thing to be marketed, with the emphasis on making sure it was at its absolute best before it was published? And speaking of a marketing dream--how about an attractive author with a fully developed, beautifully polished book?
Yeah, I know. I'm old and living in the past.