Sunday, January 2, 2011

REVIEW: Bone Factory by Steven Sidor

Steven Sidor's Bone Factory was a very peculiar read. It read like a discarded Law & Order script, complete with short chapters, abrupt changes of scene, and the introduction of new characters every few pages. Unfortunately, what works well on TV doesn't necessarily translate well to the page - it takes a few paragraphs to get reoriented after every scene change, only to get kicked out of the flow a page or so later.

Even more peculiar, the main characters - Detectives Ike and Eliza - are far less memorable, far less sympathetic, and far less interesting than the dead victim and those around her. I found myself completely glossing over their identities, relegating them to the role of faceless police figures. There was some slow development of their respective backstories, but by the time anything of significance arises . . . well, I found it difficult to care.

By contrast, for a character who's dead when we meet her, Josine is wonderfully well-rounded. What's more, for a chain-smoking, cough-syrup addicted, transsexual prostitute, she's presented in a wonderfully sympathetic manner. The same is true of those around her, characters who would normally be relegated to the role of faceless dirty scum. For instance, the slumlord of her appartment is a reasonably nice guy, who even goes out of his way to correct the detectives when they refer to Josine as 'him' instead of 'her'. The murderers are interesting as well, definitely damaged and unquestionably on the wrong side of the law, yet sympathetic and - in the case of Josine's transsexual 'sister' - almost likeable in their own way.

As far as the storytelling goes, it's a frantic, jagged, and disjointed. I found myself skimming over sections and racing towards the end, not to find out who did it or why, but simply to finish.

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