Thoughts on the Prequel Novel: Veiled Threat

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by Sizzle, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Sizzle

    Sizzle Sparkabot

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    I just picked up Alan Dean Foster's new Transformers ROTF prequel novel, and I was just curious what others of you who have read it think about it.

    Personally, I'm only a third of the way through it at this point, but there are a few signature ADF traits that are annoying the heck out of me. I will try to keep these as spoiler-free as I can.

    (1.) The story moves too slowly. As I said, I'm a third of the way through, and it feels like the novel is only just starting.

    (2.) PAGES upon PAGES of forced expository dialogue. Autobots literally sitting around discussing backstory in the most unnatural way.

    (3.) Florid prose and equally florid dialogue that makes Furmanisms look like street slang. And everybody has the same speech mannerisms. Optimus speaks exactly like Lennox. Who speaks exactly the same as Epps. Who speaks in the same manner as Ironhide. Who speaks exactly the same as the Japanese chick. Who speaks exactly the same as Starscream. Very little of the dialogue is written in the way that the characters we know from the movie would have spoken.

    (4.) Throwaway characters like Beachbreak.

    (5.) Insanely omniscient human characters. For example, Lennox, who up to this point has just been a regular army grunt, Captain though he may be, seems to automatically know the entire geography of the country of Zambia, including the Zambezi river, even though the dialogue reveals earlier that he has never been there and is utterly unfamiliar with Africa as a whole. Kaminari, the token female, is not only a sex-goddess, but holds multiple PhDs, as well as being a black belt in every known martial art. (Thankfully she has time for a bikini scene at the beginning, which is slightly tempered by the fact that this is a book.) In this book, humans know whatever the Autobots need them to know.

    (6.) Painstaking character development for cannon-fodder characters who will be obliterated in the next scene.

    I'm sure there will be more, but this novel is shaping up to be only slightly better than "Ghosts of Yesterday." To be honest, it reads like a slightly above average fanfic.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. kylash327

    kylash327 TOOOOOOYS!

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    i thought it was cool to have the scout class motorcyle Knockout in there, might have to pick him up now.
     
  3. the loupe

    the loupe Active Member

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    Well, better Beachbreak than a character which would be needed later. I can't think of any way to write those scenes without at least one 'throwaway' character. I don't know if that one is a fair complaint, really. And I would suppose the aim of the character development is so that we have a reason to care when they die.

    The others, though, pretty much yes. Especially about Kaminari, who is a blight on an otherwise no-worse-than-average book.
     
  4. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    I've frequently tromped into battle under the same banner regarding ADF's constipated writing style (see my comment history).

    Back when the guy was writing Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the Star Wars Novelization, I couldn't get enough of the guy. I don't know if my tastes have matured or if he's just not trying anymore, but ADF is the current reigning king of "Don't say in a paragraph what you can say in five pages," and "Don't ever show us anything you can TELL us-" both reversals of rules in good fiction writing.

    I bought Ghosts of Yesterday the day it came out, and the most fun my friends and I had with it was reading passages of overwrought prose out loud to one another in loud, melodramatic voices.

    When the excerpt from Veiled Threat came out, and ADF proceeded to tell us three times in two pages how this pirate was 26-years-old and misunderstood, with a heart of gold yadda-yadda, I was worried. Then the action finally picked up, Ironhide transformed... and the whole thing came screeching to a halt for a half-page reminder of how impressive this was to a 26-year-old (in case you you forgot) pirate, with a heart of gold, who was completely misunderstood.

    I was pretty much done at that point.

    This is one of the very rare scenarios where the comic prequels/sequels provide a much more in-tone, well-paced, and exciting supplement to the films than the novels. With the exception of the characterization of Simmons, of course, but I blame that more on Bay's misguided idea of what's funny.
     
  5. Cinemastique

    Cinemastique Earth Culture Specialist

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    That's all well and good, when caring is important to the story. Sometimes, though, stormtroopers are just stormtroopers, and they work better that way. Overdeveloping characters who don't serve any purpose just slows down the story.

    For characters who are important, it's usually better to let us learn about them by what they say and do, not by giving us a 3-page profile.
     
  6. the loupe

    the loupe Active Member

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    Oh, I never said he should have done it. It's annoying as all get out. Just that I can see why he was misguided into thinking it was a good idea. Probably I could have phrased that more carefully, sorry.
     

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