Thursday, October 19, 2017

Where the Hell is Tesla? by Rob Dircks

Today, I'm looking at a book that was originally written as a series of mini e-books before it was released as a complete book. The plot of the book is told through the perspective of the main character Chip, who tells the story through a series of emails to his girlfriend Julie. The result is interesting, but it also feels a little underdeveloped and at times downright stereotyped so I can call it okay at best.

Chip gets a job as a security guard at an FBI warehouse which seems to consist mostly of sitting around on his butt all day. Bored out of his mind, Chip starts poking around and discovers a lost journal of Nikola Tesla. The journal reveals that Tesla succeeded in creating a means of interdimensional transportation in 1943 and disappeared. More importantly, the journal reveals Tesla's interdimensional portal is still in his old New York hotel room. Chip convinces his friend Pete to investigate Tesla's hotel room and they succeed in opening the portal. The next thing they know, Pete and Chip are trying to find their way home through a hallway of identical doors. To get home they need to find Tesla, break him out of a dimensional prison, and hopefully stop a madman from destroying the multiverse.

This book feels okay at best, but I think the format of telling the story through email leaves something to be desired. Obviously there are plenty of ways to tell stories through journals. Heck, the Dear America series is based around that very concept and some of them are very good. (Some of them are very bad, but that's an entirely different post.) But I feel that because the story is broken up into little, itty-bitty chunks so it doesn't feel as cohesive. We kind of jump from one event to the next, we never have any time to sit and develop ideas, and the result is the story feels kind of rushed.

Honestly, I feel like Dircks took a lot of elements of good storytelling and tossed them together to try and make a good story. The effort is there, and he tries really hard to include a lot of stuff. There's the relationship between Chip and Julie, which becomes a major part of the emails when he realizes he's been a jerk to her this entire time and he really does love her and he should apologize. It's kind of cute the first time, but he keeps reiterating the point and it starts feeling like he's whipping the bloated, week-old corpse of a horse. There's also a moral message included in the book but it feels kind of tacked on rather than central to the book. It's not a bad message, but I felt like Dircks could have woven it into the story better.

The result is a book that's just...missing something. Maybe it's because it's his first book. First books, heck, even my first book, are rough around the edges. The writer is still learning and polishing their own style. So I can't fault Dircks too much if this book is rough but it definitely feels unfinished or incomplete to me. So at most I can say it's okay. If the premise seems interesting enough it's probably worth the small purchase price, but I feel like there was potential that could have been more.

- Kalpar

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