Bluff by Lenore Skomal is a tragedy in more ways than one. A young woman is found at the bottom of a steep bluff. It is unclear whether she has jumped, fallen or been pushed. Two things are clear; she is in a permanent, vegetative state and she is pregnant. The story unfolds around these basic elements. The premise is interesting, even compelling, but the writing lacks coherence and polish in ways that distract elementally from the story.
Skomal does an excellent job at creating multifaceted characters; however, most of them are so dark that they aren’t relateable, let alone likeable. Don’t get me wrong. Great characters have been created out of tremendously evil individuals. Likeability isn’t mandatory, but relateability is and there is very little of that necessary element here.
There are, in essence, five main characters in this book, leaving one uncertain of the difference between the protagonist and the antagonist. Granted, Skomal is consistently clear about who is talking, so she never commits the cardinal sin of confusing the reader. But the frequent switches between eight different speakers did make me dizzy at times.
While the author is adept at creating a unique voice for each character and the story line is absorbing, she often forgets that most basic of writing advice; “show, don’t tell.” Instead of allowing the reader to inhabit the plot and watch it unfold, getting to know the characters via their actions and reactions to events and people, we are told what is happening and why and how the character feels about it, in their own voice. One of the main pitfalls of first person perspective is that of the character coming off as narcissistic and/or selfish. It’s a hard hole to avoid even for an experienced author and Skomal falls into it with every character in her book.
Lenore Skomal shows real promise as an author. Her prose shows sparks of lyricism and she has created an intense, darkly imagined plot with realistic characters. Her story addresses issues we find uncomfortable and difficult in the real world and she does so in a convincing manner. I look forward to seeing her progress as a writer in future works.
Novel Publicity Blog Tour Notes
Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of Bluff?
- Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Bluff tour page.
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I’ve posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.
About the author: Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She is an award-winning author with the single goal of resonating with others. Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, her catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, 18 books published, a daily blog and weekly newspaper column, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues of the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence. She has won many Society of Professional Journalist awards, the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference honorable mention for best fiction, Writer’s Digest 73rd Annual Fiction Contest, New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens 2003, and most recently, the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor for “Burnt Toast.,” her first anthology of her award winning humor columns. From journalism, to literary fiction, to humor and biography, her writing is consistent, if not in genre, then in message.
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