1 out of 4 stars
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Guardian of Deceit by William H. Coles tells the story of Darwin, a young teen. Orphaned at a young age, he is mostly raised by his aging great Aunt. Due to her getting older, Darwin goes to live with his cousin, Luther, who is a wealthy, professional football player with an estate. With his dreams of becoming a doctor, we follow Darwin’s growing up once he arrives at his cousin’s estate. Along the way, Darwin encounters many people, mostly celebrities and wealthy characters, as well as themes of drama and deceit.
I was initially interested in this book because of the plot. It seemed like it would lend itself well to a book that would surprise me and, in turn, become a book that I wouldn’t be able to put down. I enjoyed some of the characters who had unique qualities and interesting stories, including Helen and Luther. Coles does a good job, particularly with Luther, of building slow conflict and personality in these characters as the story spans many years.
Unfortunately, these characterizations were the only thing I enjoyed in this book. Overall, it was not a book that I found myself unable to put down. Instead, I found myself wondering both why I found it so boring as well as why the story was so long (both in pages and in the years spanned). After having time to reflect, I believe the reasons for my poor experience boil down to pacing and lack of buildup, as well as editing.
The pacing of this book was very bizarre, which also plays into the issue of the lack of buildup, or tension, to events. Many of the characters’ appearances and events simply happened as I was reading, without any details, conflict, or exposition beyond the general statement of events. The pacing was also off putting because some events and characters would be described in intense detail, only for years to fly by between chapters without any explanation. I was often confused about where in the timeline I was, as well as concurrently experiencing large scale events without any tension or continuity from one event to the next. The packing therefore made every event inconsequential and confusing. One way I think this could be improved is by having events with different characters overlap each other, especially if they were included in the same chapter. Currently, each chapter exists in a kind of vacuum, where the other characters not currently in the scene and any sense of placement on the timeline is non-existent.
The other main problem I think this book suffers from is the lack of editing. While I did find some typos and errors, the type of editing I’m referring to is more large-scale. Coles seemed to have more ideas and details for Darwin’s growing up tale than could possibly be contained in one book. The large cast of characters, many who seem to disappear off the face of the Earth for many, many chapters and years, is one element that should have been edited more completely. Another element is the sheer amount of events and their timing. I believe Coles and his editor(s) should return to the fundamental questions that I as a reader have for any book, which are, “Why should I care about these characters?” and, “Why do these events matter at all?” Getting the plot and characters down to the essentials could help with a more solid foundation for future works.
I rate this book 1 out of 4 stars. Although some characters were complex and interesting, the poor pacing and general execution of this book left me unconcerned about the characters and anything that happened to them.
Guardian of Deceit
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