Friday, March 23, 2012

♥♥♥♥: Bottom Dwellers by Shane Etter

Bottom Dwellers
Shane Etter

Release Date: April 7th, 2011
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Page Count: 159
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

After suffering a stroke, forty-eight year old, karate black belt Patrick Dylan is scuba diving in Lake Lanier for exercise and therapy. He encounters green skinned mutant people with gills who have been living there for more than fifty years, since the lake was created. While diving, Patrick also meets beautiful Park Ranger Trudy Price who soon becomes his fiancée.

Just as with all people, there are good and bad among the bottom dwellers of Lake Lanier. Patrick battles with the bad and is surprised by the good.

Thinking that they have left subterranean life in the deep waters of the lake, Patrick and Trudy get married and head to New York City for their honeymoon. When they are visiting the Cloisters Museum, a curator is found murdered. They are thrust into the investigation and discover another subterranean culture: The Mole People of underground Manhattan, denizens of the abandoned subway and train tunnels. Patrick and Trudy are once again coping with good and evil among a different kind of bottom dweller.
What Stephanie Thinks: The prospect of this sci-fi novel is extremely engaging. I love 'other world'-type stories, with different races, especially if they have histories behind them. In Bottom Dwellers, the Bottom Dwellers came into existence when a subterranean city was covered by a dam and some of its townspeople refused to take refuge, while the Mole People formed as a result of poor living conditions and preferential outcasting. This, in my opinion, demonstrates a high level of imagination on Etter's part. Unfortunately, the story fell immensely stale because of the author's lack of writing style and lack of acceptable structure.

The book is easy to read, with large font and less than 200 pages. I probably read it in two or three sittings, not having enjoyed one. I really wanted to like this novel but the rigid and awkward tone that Etter uses makes it impossible. He describes in excruciating detail, the little insignificant parts of the book (every phone call between Patrick and Trudy, every nightly routine, every driving scene) but skirts over the major parts with equal drawing-out. This not only is a turn-off for me as a reader, but also as for me as a writer, who knows better than to make such mistakes.

The dialogue is probably what irks me most. It's very idealistic (i.e. would only happen in someone's mind, or with between thick people) and again, awkward. I can't ever see it happening. For instance, here's the engagement scene, which takes the sentiment out of any idea of 'proposal' I ever had:

She squealed with excitement, but said, 'Isn't this a little sudden?'

I said, 'When you know, you know, and I'm not getting any younger.'

'Well, that's true. You aren't getting any younger and you probably should get married. So, okay. I'll marry you.'

'Thank you.'
I'm sorry, but what the fuck was that??

In terms of organization, there really is none. Perspectives shift randomly, without page breaks or even line breaks, for that matter, which makes any instant understanding of the book's situation very confusing. Chapters are cut off at random moments, rather than at suspenseful peaks or resolved conflicts, which is both irritating and detrimental for the plot.

It would be a really long stretch for me to recommend this book. Some novels, I can definitely say and know just weren't for me, while others, I get a feeling can't be enjoyed for the majority. I personally did not like it (reading it was easy; taking it seriously was tough), although I was impressed with the idea of Bottom Dwellers and Mole People. I also gained great knowledge for scuba-diving, which was pretty cool. But aside from those few things, this book is a page short of a tragedy.

Stephanie Loves: "'I knew I smelled a rat. If you weren't a girl I'd show you what I could do.'
'If I wasn't a lady I'd kick YOUR ass.'"

Radical Rating: 4 hearts: So-so; reading this book may cause wrinkles (from frowning so much). ♥♥♥♥