November 11, 2009

Review: The Hidden

The Hidden
by Tobias Hill

It seems unnanimous so far that book bloggers are less than enthusiastic about The Hidden. I'm not about to disagree. What was hidden in The Hidden was interesting storytelling, engaging characters and appropriate puncuation.

Let's start with story. Ben Mercer, running from a failed marriage, becomes entangled with a mysterious team of archaeologists trying to uncover the glories of ancient Sparta. There is history, mystery and danger. Sounds intriguing, yes? Not so much. Actually, the history parts were interesting. The details of archaeology were alright also. It was the wreck of Mercer's life that was like trudging through a mucky swamp. His obsession with his ex-wife was pathetic. His endless questions and need to be a part of the group of folks he was warned away from was tedious. There was no substanse and nothing to compel the reader to continue reading. The action finally picks up near the end but the contents of the action were bewildering. They seemed out of place for this particular story. There were some attempts at foreshadowing but not enough.

Now the characters. I didn't like any of them. Ben Mercer was the worst. He was a whiny, snivelling child. He let everyone walk on him. I could never get a true sense of who he was. Maybe that was the point, to show that even Mercer didn't know who he was but, again, it fell short for me.

Lastly, puncuation. Was this an attempt to push the restrictive bounds of literature? Was there a deeper reason for leaving out quotation marks? All dialogue was confusing. I could never be sure who was talking to whom. There is a reason we follow standard puncuasion rules: clarity.

To be fair, there is a great deal of research into many different subjects from ancient Spartan history to archiology to the more recent history of the specific regains of Greece dealt with in the novel. The characters, while unsympathetic, were unique and distinc. The themes all followed each other smoothly. The Thesis chapters were effectively revealing about Mercer's mental state, moreso than his inner thoughts. Unfortunately, it was all for nought due to the book's confusing and boring nature.

Tobias Hill is a man of some scholarly statue in England. He is an accomplished poet and writer of short stories, a winner of some few honors. I would be interested in reading some of his shorter works. I believe he could be interesting in a more concise writing style. The Hidden might be more up the alley of men who read fiction since their tastes seem so different from those of women.

Go check out what others are saying about The Hidden at TLC Book Tours. There are some interesting comments, not all of them as prickly as mine.

8 comments:

Ti said...

I haven't heard too many good things about this one. I can usually deal with a shortage in one area but not more than that.

bermudaonion said...

I've read several reviews of this and you're right no one seems to love the book. I think I'll skip it.

Jenny said...

"There is a reason we follow standard puncuasion rules: clarity."

THANK YOU. We have all this punctuation, a rich cornucopia of punctuation choices. Why anyone would choose to neglect them is beyond me.

Jeane said...

Well, it sounds like one to skip. But I really like the image on the cover! By the way, I just gave you a blog award!

Petunia said...

Ti and Kathy-Life is short and all that.

Jenny-I'm not spectacular with my grammar but I know the basics. Someone should teach them to Mr. Hill.

Jeane-I know. The cover is great. And thanks for the award!

dolcebellezza said...

I've not read this, but I have more than once been attracted to the cover. I enjoyed reading your analysis; truthful reflection of your thoughts is the best kind of post in my opinion.

Zibilee said...

Oh no, this one doesn't sound like a book that I'd be even remotely interested in. I'm sorry that you didn't like it very much, but I very much appreciate your insightful and honest review.

Lisa said...

>Was there a deeper reason for leaving out quotation marks?

Oh, that would drive me insane! So glad I didn't pick this one up.