FREEBOOK FRIDAY: Johnny Gruesome


Johnny Gruesome

THE BOOK:
Johnny Gruesome’s dust jacket makes it sound like a murder mystery, but the IMDB entry for the 2007 film (wow it was a movie? Didn’t know that when I picked it up) makes it sound like a superhero thing with the MC returning from the grave to fight crime or something.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
I like the title, the premise sounded ok, and I LOVE the cover art–very “Goosebumps!”
WHERE/WHY I STOPPED:
I’m a few pages into chapter one, having completed a long, seemingly pointless prologue. Maybe the prologue wasn’t long, but it felt long–we’re treated to three little vignettes in the lives of our eponymous Johnny and his little friend Eric, whom he saves from drowning, teaches to play zombie videogames, and then cries to when mommy dies.
It seems to me this section was meant as exposition/characterization, but it isn’t very successful to me at either.
I stopped reading because I ran out of time before work. I plan to give this book a second chance when I get home, so look for me to update this post.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
So far the author has forgotten one of the key rules of narrative: In Medias Res. This means it’s important to start the scene as far into the action as it is possible to go without losing any of the story. So far I haven’t seen any inkling of the plot, so I know the author could definitely have started farther into the story.
Really there was no bit of information in the prologue which couldn’t have been exposed gently later on during the action.
The reason why we do in medias res is to immerse the reader in the action and make them feel like they HAVE to keep reading to find out if the situation is resolved.
Basically it’s a hook.
UPDATE*
I did continue until I couldn’t take anymore, which only took me a couple of pages. The narrator skips between about six POV characers, introducing each one of whom I assume will be killed later. This would work well IF THERE WAS ANY SIGN OF THE PLOT. Seriously; elementary fiction 101: we need to know the plot–or at least the conflict–so we can CARE about these characters.
There is potential here and the grammar and style are competent. The author just didn’t make me care.

I WANT to like this book; I feel there is potential here. I could be wrong, but I’ll read it until I can’t take anymore, just like I do all the rest.

As always, see for yourself. It’s free, so download Johnny Gruesome and tell me how far you made it.

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