4 out of 4 stars
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In the novel McDowell, by William H. Coles, the titular character of Hiram McDowell is a renowned surgeon. He is celebrated for his philanthropic work and is steadily climbing towards even greater heights not only on his climbing escapades but also on the career ladder. But behind this seemingly perfect appearance lies an ambitious man willing to leave his climbing partner for dead, and with much to be desired in his personal life. This book follows the rise and fall of the great Hiram McDowell, a villainous man in the eyes of many, but revealed to be a complicated, real human in the eyes of McDowell’s readers.
McDowell is an impressive book. I could not find any misspellings or grammatical mistakes, and it was overall, very well written and exceptionally well-edited. The novel itself is written in mostly short, descriptive sentences. At first, I found it a little off-putting, as I am used to the more flowery, descriptive lines used in many novels, but I found that this style of directness fits well with the story. It also made it easier to read, which is always a plus.
Personally, I think the main draw of this book is not the plot or the writing style, but the way the psychological aspects of its characters were represented. There are a lot of subtleties and nuances in the way that humans think. Writing a realistic character can be difficult, but it is certainly accomplished by many writers. Writing realistic characters that think in the same subtle and contradictory ways that normal humans like you and I do is extremely difficult, but Coles pulls it off fantastically. Hiram McDowell starts off as a very dislikable man. He is introduced as a bit of a villainous protagonist, and there are not many likable qualities to him. But as the book goes on, we see more and more into his psyche, and we experience his growth as a character alongside him. McDowell becomes realized as a real, complicated person, and by the end of the book, he has grown from the villainous protagonist to a person that I rooted for.
Honestly, there wasn’t really much I disliked about the book. But one thing that did annoy me a bit was how frequently female characters were introduced in terms of how sexually attractive they were. For example, a new female character is introduced, and the reader is immediately treated to a description of how firm her breasts are. Now, these descriptions are things that could be argued as having a purpose in the story, either to highlight McDowell’s promiscuous nature or as a way to gain insight on how the female character sees herself. While these descriptions didn’t ruin the book in any way for me, I did find myself getting a little annoyed every time they popped up.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars, for its wonderful character arcs and good writing. The way McDowell is written with short descriptive sentences makes it very easy to read and follow, and readers with short attention spans that have trouble following long sentences at times (like me) may find this book very enjoyable. Although Hiram McDowell is a doctor, and many of his plights involve aspects of his work as a surgeon, the medical aspects present in this book are not hard to follow, so even those completely unfamiliar with medicine should have a good time reading this book. I would especially recommend McDowell for readers who love and appreciate character studies and will not be put off the book by Hiram McDowell’s unheroic deeds.
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