Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review of Just Before the Dawn (Rebecca Remembered) by Joseph A. Gillan, review by Lori B.

Genre: fiction, romance
Reviewer's location: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Reviewer's rating: 2 of 5 stars

As far as first novels go, this wasn’t a bad attempt. His storytelling was at its best when relating the tales of Ricky F. and Rollie. You could see the main character’s humanity and connect with him in those moments. However, the author could have used a good editor to provide a focus for the novel. It meanders all over the place, touching on a myriad of topics that are obviously near and dear to the author’s heart but that don't contribute much to the plot. I’m still confused on several issues with the book. I didn't understand the reason for bringing Rebecca into the novel; she didn’t seem to serve any plot device. Characters were introduced in droves and then abandoned, story lines started and not finished, and the novel in general didn’t seem to have a purpose. As someone once told me, a good story needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It doesn’t hurt to have a conflict, either.

The multitudinous use of lists was annoying at best, boring and detractive at worst. There’s an entire chapter devoted to a list of the books the main character had read. Other superfluous details would have best been left out unless they pertained specifically to the plot line. For example, chapter seven is about the round of golf where the main character meets Rebecca. The descriptions of the game itself or the course it is played on adds nothing to the story, but the author writes in detail about what golfer Greg Norman thought of the 9th hole and described it for three paragraphs. Expand that level of detail out to other subjects and you'll get an idea of what the first fifteen or so chapters of the book are like.

I would like to see this author take one of the story ideas from this novel and address it by itself in a new book. He has a good writing style but lacks flow.

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