Worst Book This Side of the Year 2000: a Review of "Abduction"

 


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If the publishing industry had an award for the “Worst Book this side of the Year 2000", “Abduction" would win it by a landslide.

Like many books, I had high expectations going into my first reading of “Abduction". Robin Cook is usually one of my standby authors. When I'm craving a new novel, but just can't find anything new and exciting at the bookstore, I'll often turn to Robin Cook. Thoroughly prolific, there's usually something of Cook's that'll catch my interest - and though he's no National Book Award winner, I'll usually be satisfied at the end of the book.

"Abduction" was actually a first-choice book for me. Prominently displayed with the new releases, both the eerie watery cover and the compelling back cover copy that drew me. This was a book I just had to have.

The plot of “Abduction" is fairly straightforward, but has great potential: When technical problems threaten to stall a possibly groundbreaking scientific expedition, a team of divers and oceanographers are sent down in a submersible to investigate. What they find is more than they ever could have imagined.

"Abduction" tinkers with the Atlantis myth, and - in concept - this book should work. It is, after all, the perfect set-up.

Scientists, explorers of the earth's final, watery frontier, an amazing subterranean society, murder, greed. . .

Robin Cook had all the right ingredients to make “Abduction" a taut, satisfying thriller. But just like a cake, the right ingredients don't always make for a great cake. You can add all the ingredients, stir them up, and grease the pan, but if you put that batter in a cold oven, there will never be a cake.

"Abduction", after a tremendous start, goes nowhere. Robin Cook begins to create an incredible, miraculous world, and then virtually ignores it. He glosses over things that should be incredible, things that could - in the right hands - take your breath away. How is there a sky, underground? Plants? Animals?

Instead of expanding on this potentially enthralling world he's begun to create, Cook focuses on characters.

Now, normally that wouldn't be a complaint I would make of a novel. Good fiction (even good science fiction), is often character driven. The problem comes in with his characters.

Though Cook spends a lot of time and effort bringing his characters to life, they are so unrealistic that it becomes painful to read every line of dialogue, every character action and motive.

A good part of “Abduction" focuses on two ex-Navy divers. A perfect example of failed characterization, this pair does nothing but spout vulgarities and create havoc. Cook was going for (at least as I intuit) that tough-walking, tough-talking, boozing, brawling ex-military stereotype. Stereotypes are bad enough. Cook actually manages to create caricature of a stereotype.

I didn't even think that was possible.

Cook manages to reach a steady level of tedium midway through the novel and then hold it there for the remainder. Where there should be wonder, there are only unanswered questions. Where there should be tension, there is only boredom.

The ending, which, despite everything else, had the potential to be a humdinger, just left me with a perplexed feeling, and only one word on my lips. . .

"Huh?"

When it comes to medical thrillers, Robin Cook really struts his stuff, but as a world-builder and science fiction writer, he falls painfully short.

I would recommend this book to nobody. It was a waste of time, and, moreover, a waste of good trees.

Stephen King once said, of himself, that he'd become so popular that he could probably publish his grocery list.

"Abduction" is proof that the same is true of Robin Cook, except that I would bet money that his grocery list would be more interesting and better plotted.

Lisa is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Fiction Writing .

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