Saturday, April 30, 2011

REVIEW: "The Milieu Principle" by Malcolm Franks

Mike Daniels is not the most social man in the business world. He has a good heart, but it's deeply hidden under his rough exterior. He's a man of numbers, and has no time for social niceties. Business is business. When Mike receives a memory stick in the mail, he thinks nothing of it... until he takes a look at what it contains. Now his life is in turmoil as he changes his identity and goes on the run to protect this secret. His race against time takes him around the world and puts him up against highly trained opponents who want nothing more than to see him dead. Can he stay alive long enough to save the world?

In this thriller by Malcom Franks, an ingenious plot has been hatched that will address overpopulation. Ingenious, and insidious. The masters behind the curtain get to control who is worthy of life and who is superfluous. I thought this concept was really intriguing, the stuff of blockbuster thrillers. It's the type of storyline that really pulls you in and has the potential to take you on a breathless ride. As Mike/Matt plows his way towards answers, he encounters so many twists and turns that he doesn't know what- or who- to trust.

Even with an exciting plot with such potential, the actual writing really varied for me. I started the first page thinking the writing was really nice- descriptive and varied in language and structure. However, as I read on, I felt like the writing was trying too hard. Some sentences felt as if the author worked really hard to craft each sentence as a work of art. The result didn't have the effortless feel that my favorite books have had. Additionally, there was inconsistent comma use, occasional tense changes in a single sentence, missing punctuation, a confusing use of "Matt" instead of "Mike" early on (apparently a foretelling of a new identity down the road). Some sentences were somewhat confusing as written. For example, I took these sentences from two consecutive pages (and there were others I could have chosen): "Neither it is not safe for you to go outside." "Their attentions were appeared fixed more upon examining the human presence in the other streets, leading away from where they were standing." and "Though not in the EU he had much influence with people here and I was rescued from the situation." A more effective use of punctuation would have really helped clarify those sentences. Additionally, there is a lot of smirking from the bad guys in the beginning of the story, and I had no idea someone could actually "smirk harder." A really thorough editing would elevate this story quite a bit.

There are many characters in this story, some only slightly developed, making it difficult to keep track of everyone along the way. Mike goes through a major metamorphosis in this book- interesting and necessary, but the actual changes were sometimes unrealistic and obvious. This story is really driven by plot rather than characters, and the result is an uneven development of the characters, with some a little more interesting than others. Even though it's the plot events that drive the story, some events in the story seemed to have been done for the sake of convenience just to get to the next event, and the overall effect lacks some fluidity and realism. Some events didn't seem as logical as I would have expected, and I couldn't always follow the "why" of the choices made. At times, the plot dragged enough to make me forget where we were going and why. The overall effect felt somewhat disjointed to me.

An intriguing concept with tons of potential, but would really benefit from some editing of the writing and tightening of the plot events. I'm giving it a slight boost in star rating soley based on the fact that I loved the underlying concept.

3 /5 stars

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

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