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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