Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hero, Second Class

Hero, Second Class is a fantasy spoof by Mitchell Bonds. It follows the story of hero-in-training Cyrus Solburg and the villain Voshtyr Demonkin. Voshtyr is building a powerful machine called a P.L.O.T. Device to take over the world. Bonds ingeniously makes fun of many terms and cliches used in fantasy with a story serious enough to keep a person interested.

When I first started reading the book, my inner editor had a field day. I've been on Clean Place (online writers' group) for four years and have had numerous rules of writing ingrained in me, such as show, don't tell; adverbs are evil; passive voice will steal your soul; and don't dump much description or backstory on your reader at one time. I don't think Mitchell learned any of these. So at first, the I. E. (inner editor, not Internet Explorer) was going crazy. It's not that his writing was necessarily bad, he just broke a lot of the rules I learned (which I break too at times [a lot during SuNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo], but the first rule of rule-breaking is that you have to know the rules before you can get away with breaking them*). But I got so wrapped up in the story that I stopped noticing. By the middle, I'd decided the style worked for him, and by the end, I loved it (This is not to say you should go around breaking the aforementioned rules in hopes you'll end up published. The rules are there for a reason. You have to figure out how your story should be told). The one thing about his writing that continued to bother me is that he sometimes repeats the same word too close to itself. This lifts the suspension of disbelief, knocking the reader out of the story.

The characters are very likable. I even enjoyed the romance. I am usually not a romantic person when it comes to love stories (Snow White and Prince Charming? Sleeping Beauty and Philip? Cinderella and Mr. No Personality? They probably divorced or ended up miserable because their "love" was nothing more than petty infatuation. I mean seriously, they knew each other for what, a day? I digress). Anyway, my inner cynic usually prevents me from enjoying romance, but the romance in Hero, Second Class is cute. My favorite character isn't the hero, though - he's second (no pun intended). My favorite is Serimal, despite him not having a big part. Read the book if you want to know about him.

Another thing I like is that while there are Christian elements, they don't feel forced or preachy. Mind you, I'm a Christian, but I don't like stories that are basically sermons (normal sermons, anyway. The ones that may or may not contain valuable information but make you want to fall asleep or feel patronized or are sappy or sound like someone tried too hard to make it appealing to teenagers). In Hero, Second Class they come across, for the most part, as natural and believable. I was pleasantly surprised.

It's a very long book, about six-hundred pages. But I never got bored. There are a couple of parts that dragged a bit (because I wanted to get back to the hero [or Serimal] at that point and these parts were about other characters), but they were still enjoyable. The novel far surpassed my expectations. I found it well worth the read. It made me laugh and smile more than any book I've read in a long time. Perhaps ever.

The end surprised me. I expected more resolution. But Mitchell's next book is set to be published in April next year, so I'll be looking forward to finding out what happens.


1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I know the rules. Well, at least, now I do. You should have seen the manuscript before my editor got a hold of it. There were more adverbs than you could shake a stick at. And trust me, you can quickly, viciously, angrily, repeatedly shake a stick at a LOT of adverbs.