Friday, July 09, 2010

My Darklyng, or Journalism Obviously Does Not Pay

It's summer, you're looking to change things up a bit. Journalism is taking a big ole hit, and you need something to freshen up the dreary news thing. So, take a look around--what's hot these days? Vampires! YA fiction about vampires! Moody and beautiful YA vampires who don't actually attack anybody and who hang around directionless and personality-free high school girls!

But--seriously? My Darkling is what you give us?

I cannot begin to tell you how badly written this is. Truly bad. It makes Stephanie Meyer's books look like Nobel Prize-winning material. It makes your middle-schooler's posts to look like a collaboration between Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. It makes the back of your breakfast cereal box read like Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Don't just take my word for it, let's have a sample from the first chapter. Our Heroine, teen Natalie, is obsessed with a fictional series of vampire novels written by a fictional author named Fiona St. Clair. For some reason, there is an open casting call for models to come audition to "play" the characters on the book covers. Natalie has slipped away from her normal suburban New Jersey life to come to the audition in Manhattan, which is taking place in room 701:

Natalie caught her breath: 7 was the second digit in 17, which was the magic number that unlocked some of the darkest mysteries in Fiona St. Claire's universe. Was it just an eerie coincidence that the casting was taking place in room 701—17 backward, with a 0 between the numerals?

Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY? If the call had taken place in room 908, you could add the 9 and the 8 together and even add the 0 and get 17! Or, room 435, where if you multiply the 4 and the 3 and then add the 5, you get 17! Or, room 8, which is what you get if you add the 1 and the 7! Just think how many "eerie coincidences" you could possibly have in any given building. Especially if you take the zip code the building is in and divide it by the area code, subtract the number of floors in the building, and add in the subway fare. . . .

My Darklyng is posted every Friday, and as of today, there are some 18 chapters. (Is it just an eerie coincidence that if you subtract the 1 from the 8 you get the second digit of 17?) Slate's introduction to it called it a "serialized vampire novel" and "a juicy summer read." So far, there are no vampires, and the thrills seem to consist of wondering if Natalie's mother will find out that Natalie took the train into the city without permission. My God! The nail-biting suspense of it all!

So, the high concept of this serialized novel (are they writing as they go? Surely something this bad is just whipped off late on Thursday night in time for posting on Friday) is the parallel social media links. Several of the characters have Facebook pages and/or Twitter accounts so you can follow what happens in "real time." You know, in case you don't have enough real people to follow, now you can follow two-dimensional fictional people as well.

Also, the story is "illustrated" with photos that purport to be of the characters and their surroundings. I'm not convinced that this is all that new or worthwhile, but if you are going to do this, shouldn't the photos actually look like what is described in the story?

For example, take this photo from Chapter 3--supposedly of the house where Natalie lives with her mother and step-father:

I'm not sure what you would call this architectural style. Italianate Queen Anne, maybe, or Cape Cod Second Empire, or even Collegiate Gothic, maybe--or just a hot mess of styles kluged together. What you would NOT call it is a "rambling ranch-style house at 65 Maple Crest Lane."

This is what a "ranch house" actually looks like:

Notice the fact that a ranch house is only ONE STORY TALL. Notice the fact that it is long and even--dare one say it--rather "rambling." Notice how a "rambling ranch house" is NOT three stories tall with a tower on one end.

I mean, geez, people! If you are going to specify the architecture and post a completely different type of picture on the SAME DAMN PAGE--why should I even click through to your Facebook and Twitter feeds? Because I'm sure the same attention to detail you spent on the ACTUAL BOOK PAGE is going to be higher than on the ancillary sites.

If you do click though, you get very little related to the plot of the book, and a lot of random internet crap. Remember the "Leave Britney Alone" video from a few years back? Well "Natalie" just posted it, because that's how you stay ahead of the internet.

In the end, this is not only badly written, but it's apparently failing to generate much interest on Slate. As of today, there are a total of 8 comments--cumulative from the six weeks of posted chapters. OMG--is that another eerie coincidence? Because 8 can be broken down to 1 plus 7. . . .

So, go ahead, see if you can stand to read this. If you can read all 18 chapters, I have a book I'll sell you--it's entirely composed of the subject lines of emails from my spam folder.

1 comment:

Lady Z said...

I personally think the house is Art Deco with influence of Richardsonian Romanesque, hence the dormers and tower.