1 out of 4 stars
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B-Side by Janis Jones starts with a very horrible act. On the night of their anniversary, Mara, a police-officer in LAPD, leisurely drives home, hoping to spend some quality time with her girlfriend, Casey. Unbeknownst to her, at the same time, someone breaks into their house and brutally assaults Casey, leaving her for dead. When Mara arrives home, she finds the house surrounded by paramedics and fellow police officers who inform her about Casey’s situation. Holding on to dear life, Casey survives her injuries, though being scarred for the rest of her life. Mara decides to find out who hurt her lover, and why?
My rating for this novel is 1 out of 4 stars. This was one of the most exasperating reads of all time for me. I had picked up this book because its description promised a mystery. It was also mentioned that the author had experience in films and that the novel was based on a screenplay by her and Jason Rohan. Going in, I had a lot of expectations from B-Side, but I was sorely disappointed. It didn’t take much time for me to realise that this novel wasn’t based on a screenplay, it was the screenplay! Or at least, it felt like one. It was not written like a novel. There was no description of the surroundings, no setting up of scenarios, no deep insights into the characters.
“Mara driving, leaning her face out of the window, hair billowing, feeling the evening breeze.” This is how mundane the lines were. The author was simply dictating the scenes, she wasn’t telling a story. This dreary form of writing made it a very tedious job for me to complete this book. Now that I look back on it, I think that it might work better if these scenes were actually being played out; actors could breathe life into this story.
Considering its strong subject matter, B-Side could have worked out wonderfully. The crime that drove the plot focused on rape and home invasion. The story was further supported by the issues of PTSD, homosexuality and sexism in the workplace, in addition to the simpler themes like the complications of a love triangle. It was fairly visible that the author was trying to bring honesty into the way her characters handled their predicaments. The case itself took a shocking arc and the revelation at the end was staggering. I didn’t find any grammatical mistakes, so the editing was exceptional as well. However, all this was ruined by the method of storytelling, which was quite a let-down.
Since I didn’t like the book, I don’t know how I can suggest it to anyone else. In an ideal situation, it would have been a good read for people who like the books of crime-genre. In its present form, B-Side is too flawed to be read by anyone. For now, only someone who is in the process of learning the English language may take the chance of reading it, just because it’ll be easy to read. There is potential in this story, but the execution was just way too sloppy.
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