Thursday, February 28, 2019

A book worth skipping!

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George WashingtonThe First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book was poorly researched, poorly supported by actual evidence, and an exercise in melodrama. It was severely lacking in evidence or the kind of research that would make it worthwhile, and it was full of supposition and speculation.

I often enjoy a work of history that's written by a novelist. When properly researched, the skills of a good novelist can bring history to life in ways that more academic writers aren't equipped to do. There have been some excellent books of this type. Then there's this dreck.

The First Conspiracy was repetitious, speculative and unsupported by actual primary sources. I have a degree in history, but I don't expect books I grab at the bookstore or library to read like my thesis. Rather, I want them to be more entertaining than an academic work. Still, what you get is vague speculation... unconnected pieces... lack of substantial direct quotes... cue ominous music ...George Washington!. That doesn't make for a credible story. (But be sure to hear George Washington's name in your most dramatic internal voice. The authors throw in his name more times than I could count. And yes, I know he's the subject. What I mean is, there are hundreds of filler lines that just mention George Washington to remind you how important all of this is and hope you don't notice that they no evidence to support whatever they're talking about.

Even the title itself is misleading. Other than the fact that the British and their supporters would have loved to have captured Washington or any of the other colonial leaders--and might well have executed them as traitors--there's little to support this being any kind of serious plot. There's just no meat on these bones. Don't waste your time!

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Friday, February 01, 2019

Well, that was a disappointing way to end this trilogy

The Kremlin's Candidate (Red Sparrow Trilogy, #3)The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason  Matthews
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Such a disappointing third book to close out this trilogy. Some will defend the repeated body blows this book delivers to readers who felt invested in these characters, saying it's more realistic than what the author might otherwise have written. I understand that, but this isn't non-fiction. It's fiction, and entertainment is a big part of why we're reading it. So to turn such brutality loose on characters we'd come to know and admire (I won't say which ones, so I don't spoil things) seems unnecessary and cold. As I read the parts I have in mind, I couldn't believe the author would do this.

Yes, people in service to their countries can get hurt and can die. We all know that. But again, this is entertainment. Good guys versus bad guys. Jason Matthews had visited death upon good characters before, but there's almost a sense of betrayal in reading The Kremlin's Candidate, and I'm sorry I didn't stop after the first two books. If you loved Red Sparrow and Palace of Treason, you may want to stop there and hang on to the good memories of those books.

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