Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review - The Kite Maker

The Kite Maker
by Brenda Peynado
Date: 2018
Reading level: A
Book type: short story
Pages: 32
Format: e-book

The Kite Maker is Brenda Peynado's science fiction novella of of how humans cope with alien contact.

After aliens arrive on earth, humans do the unthinkable out of fear. When an alien walks into a human kite maker's store, coveting her kites, the human struggles with her guilt over her part in the alien massacres, while neo-Nazis draw a violent line between alien and human.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Okay, look: if you're going to be all artsy and avoid using standard punctuation, you need to make sure that you actually know what you're doing. You know that saying about needing to know the rules before you can break them? Well, it seems that this author ignored that. The text is riddled with what appear to be typos (missing words, missing punctuation, etc.), so when I'm trying to read all this dialogue without punctuation, I end up confused because I don't know where one person's speech begins and ends, or even if it begins or ends.

This was a complete and utter waste of time. If you enjoy reading confusing narratives with unpleasant, selfish (to the point of being pathological) narrators, go ahead and read this one. I was appalled by how the narrator thought and acted. She claimed to feel guilty about taking part in the alien massacres fifteen years earlier, but her guilt had little to do with the aliens. It was all about her. And she did some really awful things: nearly killing herself by driving into oncoming traffic (selfishly ignoring the people in the other vehicles who might be hurt or killed as well); coming on to an alien when she could tell he didn't want it and was uncomfortable, all to satisfy her own twisted needs; wishing emotional anguish on the aliens because... well, I don't even know why. So someone else could be as miserable as her?

The characters (including our sociopathic narrator) were so badly developed that I couldn't even care. Even the aliens were badly described with a mish-mash of traits that left me confused rather than able to picture them in my mind. Her sons are almost as bad as she is, and since she's the only parent left to guide them, I don't hold out much hope.

I don't know if this was a thinly veiled allegory about what's going on right now in our world with xenophobia and hate crimes, but if it was, it was heavy-handed and rather stupid. Skinheads are allowed to run riot and burn down people's businesses... just because? There's no such thing as insurance? (She wanted to kill herself after a bunch of skinheads burned down her toy store, which seems like a bit of an extreme reaction, especially if your business is properly insured and you've already loaded most of your valuable inventory safely into your car.)

The writing was just bad. Aside from the lack of punctuation in the dialogue, there were a lot of phrases that I just couldn't make sense of. I read some of them multiple times, wondering if I was just missing the context or something. But, come on... reading a short story shouldn't be this hard! I can't even imagine reading a full-length novel by this author.

Quotable moment:

All the brawny, tough-man jobs were sources of human pride, if you could have them. In this way, I was more like the Dragonflies than the humans, my craft something that had become disgusting to most people, a sign of weakness.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 0/5
Pace: 1/5
Writing & Editing: 1/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall Rating: 1.29 out of 5 ladybugs

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