Wish They Wouldn’t: Over Research

Wednesday

Wish They Would/Wouldn’t Wednesday is my new feature where I talk about things I wish authors would or wouldn’t do. This week’s topic is: Wish They Wouldn’t: Over Research.

I’m not even going to pretend that I know all the hard work that goes into writing a book. Especially when trying to be accurate and authentic within specialized genres like historical fiction or something science-related, justice system-related, etc. A lot of research needs to go into making these stories feel real for the reader.

However, there are often times that I feel things get OVER researched. Like the author has done so much research that he/she can’t help but use it. It often does nothing for me in terms of enhancing a story. Sometimes it even feels like the author is flaunting his/her intelligence on the subject, taking away from the actual characters and their story.

Some examples:

Partials

Partials by Dan Wells.

It’s been awhile since I read this book (I still haven’t made it to Ruins yet), but what I remember the most was that it seemed soooo much longer than  it needed to be. And Kyra’s scientific research became way too detailed for me. I really have no idea if Wells did lots of Scientific research, if he’s just really smart, or if he made everything about it up. But how it came across to me was, “Look how smart I am, while I bore you for pages and pages and forget about the rest of the story.”  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the rest of the story or his writing. The science was just too much.

Undetected

Undetected by Dee Henderson

The submarine description, Naval procedures, and science took up way too much time in this book. It made the book way too long and bogged down. I think it also really took away focus from the characters and their development.

The First Phone Call from Heaven

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Ablom

I still am scratching my head over the inclusion of the history of the telephone in this book. This is a perfect example of over researching a subject and including it in a book when it really does absolutely nothing at all to advance or add to the plot.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Are there other books you think are Over Researched?

 

 

Review: The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

The First Phone Call from Heaven

Synopsis from Good Reads:

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief–and a page-turner that will touch your soul–Albom’s masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

PLOT

The First Phone Call from Heaven chronicles the lives of several members of a small town where a miracle has seemingly occurred – residents are receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones. When the town and the phone calls become worldwide news, there are staunch believers, insistent protestors, a skeptic pastor, and a man that will do anything to prove that it’s all a hoax.

I felt like for most of the book we are supposed to believe that the phone calls are real. While I believe in Heaven, if this was to happen in real life, I would definitely be one of the skeptics. Because of that, I just kept waiting for when we would find out what really was happening and it was a good ways into the story before I figured it out – and even longer until it’s actually revealed. Though I did figure it out, there was another twist that I didn’t see coming.

Interwoven with the story is the history of Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone. While some of the information was interesting, I really don’t see how it added anything to the story. It was one of those times where I felt like the author was just saying, “hey, look at all the research I did!”

CHARACTERS

There were a lot of characters, but most of them were not very developed. We skip from one to another so quickly that it was hard to really care that much about what was happening with any of them. The most developed character was Sully, a man recently released from prison for an incident that wasn’t his fault and has also been recently widowed. When his young son keeps asking when he’ll get a phone call from his mother, Sully starts his own investigation into the phone calls. I did mostly like him, as well as two of the phone call recipients, Tess and police chief Jack, who started a relationship after being brought together by the calls.

Though we didn’t get enough investment into most of the characters, Albom did do a good job with varying each of their reactions to receiving the phone calls – some wanted to tell everyone, some wanted to keep it a secret, some were scared, some doubted. I just would’ve liked a couple more characters to get the same amount of attention as Sully did.

READABILITY

This is the first Mitch Albom book I’ve read and he is an excellent writer. However, the plot just jumped around a little too much for me. Instead of really investing in the characters of any given scene, it gave us just enough to know what was going on with one person before it jumped to what was going on with the next.

ENJOYABILITY

I’m just not sure how I feel about this book. It was different and it did keep me turning the pages, but at times I was just trying to get through it. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but giving the author’s popularity, I thought I would’ve enjoyed it a little more than I did.

Rating (out of 5)
Plot: 3
Characters: 2.5
Readability: 2.5
Enjoyability: 2.5
Overall Average: 2.625 stars