Friday, August 29, 2008

The Dangerous Storytelling of Daniel X

Recently I was given the James Patterson/Michael Ledwidge 'page-turner,' The Dangerous Days of Daniel X. It's a brief book, to say the least, about young boy genius who can manipulate reality.

At first, I took it as an insult, as Daniel X is written for someone of a much lesser ability than my own to read. Patterson and Ledwidge kept the descriptions to a minimum, and quickly glazed over anything that was non-essential, leaving the reader to fill in the vast blanks.

Right before I was about to toss the book aside, it hooked me. The humorous, yet perfectly true-to-life portrayal of the young boy's first crush simply resonated inside me, and I continued to read for the sake of knowing what happens to the relationship. This, in turn, carried me like an on-ramp back into the main storyline.

When I finished the book a couple hours later, I found myself perplexed. Yes, in the end, I enjoyed the read. But why? It didn't really have a lot of substance, and much of the plot was easily forseeable. Stereotypical plot devices were everywhere.

I believe there are several reasons why. First, as I read, the world in my mind was mostly my own. Though it was mostly unfocused and vague, it made the reading seem more like watching television - a passive event. Second, due to the extreme lack of words, the storyline's skeleton was far less subtle than other books. For example - drive on Russian highways for a good amount of time, then come drive in the United States. The easy-to-navigate infrastructure would be a welcome break from the meandering randomness one's used to. Third, it was a study on balancing the detail in the scene-setting continuum, and not paying much worth to the small stuff.

It's definitely the last time I'll find myself insulted before reading a book.

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