Friday, January 14, 2011

A Star Curiously Singing--a Book So Aptly Named

Another pause in our artist series. I'm a freehead, so I can do that. No stops for me.

Unless you've read A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Neitz, you're probably thinking "What?"

Well, I've read it. AND The Superlative Stream.

I am not one for simple plot summaries when it comes to book reviews--you probably know that. I'm not going to start now. I will say it's the story of Sandfly, a "debugger" sent to fix a robot on an experimental spaceship. Sci-fi, yep. Not heavy, hard sci-fi. Very character-driven. And voice....

The voice of these novels is what really grabbed me. The plot is awesome, the characterization top-notch...the pacing, descriptions, everything, no complaints. Spot on.

The voice, mind-blowing.

Especially when you consider the point of view they're written in.

OK, lesson time for you non-writers (or maybe you writers who could use a refresher):

Novels are written in a multitude of pov's, including third person omniscient, third person limited, second person, and first person.

Third person (either kind) is written as though someone else is telling the story, as in, "He stared into the murky depths..." Second person is nearly never used, and involves directing its prose at the reader, "You see, it don't you? Over there...." First person is written as though the character is telling the story, "I dug through my backpack, searching for..." (Keep in mind, this is the narrative part. Dialog is a free-for-all, folks.)

You also have your choice of past tense or present tense. The "he stared" is past tense, the "you see" is present tense.

Most books choose third person (limited--meaning you only get into one character's head at a time), past tense. Next in popularity is first person, past tense. Quite a few new books--including Kerry's here--are coming out in first person, present tense. Second person is pretty much not done, but Kerry works it in here and there.

Which (finally) brings me to my point. First person present tense is like singing a capella. Third person past is more like having instrumental accompaniment. For some reason, third person, and even first person past, is just more forgiving when it comes to style. Maybe because it's what we're used to reading, so we don't look for anything "off-key," same as listening to singing with background instruments. But first person present is different, rare, like a capella singing, and you have to get it perfect or every eensy-weensy mistake is amplified. Second person, forget it. It's like having someone sing right into your ear.

Kerry does it though. Flawlessly. He sings this story, no back-up, no reliance on convention.

I could not put these books down. They're completely addictive, just like a great song--the kind of song you put into your mp3 player and let it play on repeat for hours.

In my book, Kerry is a star, curiously--skillfully--singing.

You can find A Star Curiously Singing here:

Amazon print and Kindle.

Barnes and Noble print and Nookbook.

I assume from there you can maneuver your way to The Superlative Stream, freehead.


Kerry Nietz said...

Thanks, Kat. You are very kind. I may have to rethink making you one of the villians in the next one. ;)

Kat Heckenbach said...

Hey, I'm okay with villain as long as you make me a cool one ;).

James D. Maxon said...

Sounds like an interesting story. I'm one of those who are initially a little leery when authors ruffle the POV rules, but if done well I'm easily converted.

The one thing I was surprised to find was the $8.50 kindle price, which seems a bit on the high side for a digital file. Sill, I added it to my wish list of future books to consider.

Thanks for posting.

Kerry Nietz said...

Interesting, James. I think you're the first person I've heard question the price. I don't set it, and really know little about it, but looking over the list of Top Rated Kindle books ( it doesn't seem too outrageous to me. What do you think is a fair price? Not trying to be argumentative...I just wonder what you're used to?