There is a point of view style called stream of consciousness… it is little used because it is HARD to execute in a meaningful way. It’s purpose is to show the internal view of the mind of the character so as to shed light on plot and motivation in the novel. Yeah, no… this book did NOT do that…
Detention Land: Lip Service
by Susan Orion
Published November 6th 2017*
This ain’t no ordinary high school. Trapped in a room of clever lies, unlikely confessions, and a whole lotta lip, the only way to escape is by uncovering the truth. Four walls, two voices, one chance. Who is the woman behind the wall? Solve the puzzle. Save the boy. This is Detention Land.
With access to Roger’s private journals, the reader is transported into the detention room, watching as it unravels, brick by brick, piece by piece. Inspired by true events, Detention Land is a contemporary classic that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
I’m not sure what to write in a summary so I’m going to go with the goodreads summary…
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This has not influenced my opinion.
Don’t skip the blurb but go up there and read it again… (I’ll wait!) … … … It probably took you a couple times to figure out why in the world I would try to read this!
First off this was NOT the cover, nor did the title contain “Lip Service” at the time otherwise I would have KNOWN not to request this book.
I really liked the idea that this was a male POV and that there were private journals! (YAY journals!) Plus there is supposed to be a twisty puzzle of some sort through a sort of “detention land” …pretty sound reasons, right?! (PLEASE SAY YOU AGREE!! This book sent my picker all haywire…)
So yeah, I DNFed this at 26% then I went and read the last 10% so I could understand about the twist…
#1 – There was NO TWIST that I could intuit.
Now you are probably thinking that I didn’t read 65% of the book so it was probably in there… but NO… (see #2-5)
#2 – The stream of consciousness writing was EVERYTHING!
Let me TRY to explain… It’s not hard to string the words together to form sentences but this guys energy was OFF THE CHARTS… You NEVER got a break from it either… his mouth ran on and on and on and on some more. Every thing ran through this narrative style and it was exhausting. You knew this kid wouldn’t learn (because he didn’t see reality for what it is) and you frankly didn’t care what had happened or was going to happen! You just wanted to ESCAPE!
“Now don’t go judging me. Lying is a part of my DNA. It’s part of everyone’s, actually. It is a remnant of our survival mechanisms, one could say, if you are an evolutionist. Or perhaps remnants of the Garden of Good and Evil otherwise. For me, though, I embrace my God-given survival mechanisms. I didn’t choose this mechanism; it’s ingrained in my genetic makeup. So, you can’t blame me; I was born a liar.”
Now read this on loop for 25 minutes as fast as you can and you will get a sense of what it felt like to read the book!
#3 – NOTHING actually happened! (i.e. NO plot!)
So you’re probably thinking I exaggerate when I say nothing happens… But we get no parameters about where he is or what’s happening… he’s basically locked in a cellar talking to an intercom. That’s it!! They talk about things he’s done but you NEVER get to experience it except to hear his rationalizations why he acted crazy… you aren’t even sure WHAT he did!! Sometimes it isn’t even stated out!
#4 – You actually FEEL INSIDE Roger’s head…
Yes, you would think this would be a good thing… BUT NO, HELL NO (and I don’t normally curse!) Double and triple HELL NO! First off he’s manic, can’t stop his energy. Second he’s unreliable and delusional. Third it feels like you are in prison with him in that room, because you are stuck getting ALL the info about everything from his head. It’s CRAZY TORTURE!
#5 – The journals were NO DIFFERENT from the room chats…
Personally I don’t want to read something that feels like SOMEONE IS YELLING AT ME AND JUST WON’T SHUT UP AND JUST STREAMING EVERY LITTLE THOUGHT THAT RUNS THROUGH HIS HEAD! i DON’T CARE IF THIS GUY IS A GENIUS AND IF I READ HIS BOOK i WILL GET A MILLION DOLLARS, i REFUSE TO DO IT! I WILL DO WATER TORTURE RATHER THAN READ THIS.
Do you get the idea? I know I’m being pedantic about this book but yeah, I DO NOT DNF lightly and especially when it is about mental health. There is no twist reveals… there is NO payoff to enduring this torture.
Here is the absolute worst thing about this book…
The writing is SOOOOOOOOOO EXCELLENT! Like I’ve said… you feel inside this guys brain! The personality is TOO strong but its there in spades. The mental illness is off the charts, it just wasn’t framed in a way that I could derive anything from it… You can actually understand and FOLLOW a stream of consciousness narrative SUCCESSFULLY! Yeah that is some talent there… but the storytelling just wasn’t there… I’ve got to be able to grasp salient points in order for the story to be understood.
Stream of Consciousness Narrative! Male Protagonist! Unreliable narrator! Only in the Head! Mental Illness!
As a writer I would really HATE people DNFing my book! I would rather they slog through and see if I redeemed myself at all… I know that book selling is predicated on reviews so maybe a poor reception could be avoided if a reader chose to DNF… BUT I wouldn’t receive ANY feedback… a negative feedback will tell you something about who is READING your books and what is turning them off, even if their viewpoint is invalid as far as what you as the writer wants to focus on…
Ultimately WRITERS SELL BOOKS! That’s the bottom line…
⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ Premise & World Building
⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ Cover & Title
⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ Development & Storycraft
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative
⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ Plot & Pacing
⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ Relationships
⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ Feelings
I would give a different book by the same author a chance if I liked the blurb, etc. but this writing experiment was a FAIL!
How often do you DNF? Is your reason more boredom or irritation?
How do you feel about unreliable narrators? Is the idea intriguing?
Are you attracted to a book with journal entries?
Thanks for reading XOXO
*The publication date in Goodreads is November 6th 2016 but in Netgalley it says November 6th 2017! So I’m going with the publisher’s date.