Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: Blitzball by Barton Ludwig


E-arc received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this plot is that our MC is the clone of Hitler, reborn in order to bring about the Final Solution that Hitler failed to do so the first time around. It was a cool set up, a cool idea but it failed woefully.

This book is confused. It’s confused about what it wants to be, whether it wants to be sci fi with a twist of realism, or reality with a mere flash of sci fi. Those two might sound like the same thing but they’re not. 

If it was going to be sci fi with a twist of realism it would have the main character, Addie discovering his identity earlier in the book and would continue the narrative to a surprising conclusion, given Addie’s “real” identity as a clone. 

If it was going to be realism with a twist of sci fi, Addie would discover his identity much later and would either rebel against it and buck against the system that created him. 

However this book seems to do neither. It just putters along in fits and spurts with clunky scene changes and some chapters that seem to have been edited to within an inch of their existence and other chapters that seem not to have seen the merest hit of editing finesse. 

SETTING

The setting is confusing (which may be intentional) with the reader unsure of what year it is, what technology is available and very little consistency between slang that is used by various characters. At some points it has a very 1950’s feel to it and at others it seems thoroughly modern with cell phones featuring prominently as a way for our main characters to communicate. 

It is also confusing as to where this is set in terms of geographical location, though this turns out to be an important point later on. It seems like an attempt to create an unreliable narration/environment but ends up just confusing the reader.

SUBPLOTS AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

There is a ridiculous subplot with counterfeit art that is downright confusing and is haphazardly thrown in with no explanation. 

Addie’s racist attitudes are disturbing but unsurprising given who he is a clone of but his attitude toward women and losing his virginity is downright disgusting. At one point he asks his friend to get some Rohypnol for him so that he can drug one of the other MC’s in order to rape her so that he can lose his virginity without worrying what the girl will think of his sexual prowess. 

This subplot is deeply uncomfortable, disturbing and frankly dangerous in a book that is seemingly directed towards the YA market given the age of the characters and the tone of the writing. 
I feel like this subplot was added in order to demonise Addie, to make him seem more like the version of Adolf Hitler we all know about from history books, however it comes across merely as clunky and unsettling with no real reason for it to be so. 

While I understand that the author might have been attempting to imply that Adolf Hitler was evil for no reason at all, it doesn't come across this way. It comes across as lazy writing with no character development. 

WRITING STYLE

The writing style is interesting in parts. The use of the German language, particularly when used in an insulting way was interesting, however it does create more inconsistencies with the MC as well. At various points throughout the book he refers to women as pigs and assholes all while saying that "true" German men don't use obscenities and swear words. This could have created a deeply complex and interesting character with many different personas depending on his situation however it just seemed to create a mass of contradictions which made it hard to empathise with the MC who is clearly dealing with the scary reality that he is the clone of a Nazi dictator. 

In essence this book is confused and confusing to read. I would like to read other books by the author in order to see if this is their preferred writing style or just a quirk of this book. 

If you like books with unreliable narrators, unlikeable characters and a twist of sci fi you might like this. Just be warned that the sexism and racism is a prevalent plot point. 

Blitzball by Barton Ludwig is due for publication on the 12th of November, 2018

2/5 stars. 

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