Friday, June 12, 2009

Celebrity Influence

I made my reading selection, as you may have noticed on my Shelfari bookcase: the novel of choice is Amber Benson's Death's Daughter.

I admit that I was attracted to this book for the shallow reason that it was autographed and had a large eye-catching sticker on the front advertising this fact. The story sounded mildly intriguing from the back flap, but it was the author's picture that caught my attention. First, it was placed on the back of the paperback book, remarkable in itself considering that Benson has only one novel on the shelf, and this sort of honor typically seems reserved for New York Times best-selling authors. Second, the author looked familiar.

Flipping the book open, we come to the second shallow reason for which I purchased this novel: the author is none other than the character Tara Maclay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've never had the autograph of an actor. I was sold.

I'm amused at myself and a little embarrassed that such trivial things made me want to buy the book. Part of me laid down a silent gauntlet to this actress—a challenge to see if she could be any good when placed on the other side of the art (no longer mouthing the words of others, but creating them). To my credit, and Benson's, she's also cowritten several other novels, so there was potential to Death's Daughter that maybe it hadn't been purchased by a publishing house on the sole basis that Benson is a minor celebrity and, therefore, already had a selling platform.

I'm 37 pages into the book, and the verdict is still out. The character's voice is very...valley girl? Amateur? The writing is a little too telling interspersed with almost desperate showing verbs and adjectives when the action ramps up. The world is a little too narrow, like looking at it through the tunnel vision of the main character. But the story, the plot, is captivating enough that though I've thought several times about setting the book aside, unfinished, I can't make myself.

Hum, that didn't sound like particularly rousing praise, given that I'm less than 50 pages into the novel. Still, there's hope for it to improve, or at least grow on me more.

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