from Pantperthog to Knockando

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Telegraphed plot twists

I've recently finished reading The Kite Runner, which was excellently written and moved me greatly. The waste of life and potential as a result of the blinkered Islamist takeover of Afghanistan permeates the book and it's quite a melancholy read as a result.

The only problem is the two plot twists which I have to admit I saw coming a mile off. For a start I guessed the relationship between Amir and Hassan well before the former learned it in the book. Then I knew the identity of the white-robed Talib almost immediately - it just seemed so inevitable who it was going to be.

Maybe I'm a bit over-read, or analytical in how I approach novels. Today I finished Matter, the latest Culture novel by Iain M Banks, which had a very sudden and slightly unexpected ending. But again the main plot crux stood out before it was revealed by the author. In this case the problem is it's a plotline used in literally hundreds of epic SF stories. Banks hides it well, because for the first two-thirds of the book you don't know what the main point of the story is. But when it settles down to the plot proper, it isn't that much of a surprise.

Which is a shame really,because Use of Weapons remains my favourite Culture novel - mainly because I didn't see the twist coming until it was too late. And the shock (and sense of violation) I felt at the literary betrayal by the 'hero' still unnerves me on subsequent re-readings. It seems those heights (depths) elude even the greatest writers occasionally.

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