Carrots – Colleen Helme – Wendy Tremont King

This sounded like a fun idea, and since I had (sadly) bought the Kindle edition I was able to get the Audible edition for cheap.

Unfortunately, neither the book nor the narration wore well. The story itself was fine: Shelby Nichols is caught in the middle of a grocery store bank robbery; a bullet grazes her skull. And of course she shortly discovers that she can hear other people’s thoughts. As one does after a bullet grazes one’s skull. Hijinks ensue, as they do when one develops rogue psychic powers. Shelby does tell her husband what’s going on, which is good; however, this causes almost as much trouble as keeping silent might have, because his anxiety level ramped up and he started trying to control his thoughts about other women and so on. Then of course Shelby’s pre-existing fears about her husband’s hot coworker crystallize when she hears her thoughts, and she decides to use her new power to shut the girl down. And of course it ends up turning into a whole adventure involving organized crime, double lives, and frequent costume changes.

The writing started to annoy me as the first person narrator was made to say roughly the same thing over and over: “my stomach dropped” “my heart dropped” “my heart skipped a beat” – aaand she cringes. Constantly. Doors fly open, or burst open. It’s all very energetic.

Shelby also drove me insane with her apparent inability – or lack of desire – to remember people’s actual names. To the police officer handling her case, Harris, she gives the nickname “Dimples”, and then she proceeds to call him this not only to herself but to people who have no way of knowing to whom she’s referring, like her husband; to people with whom it’s entirely inappropriate, like people who have never met the man or with whom a more formal approach might be preferable, and … to Harris himself. (Did I mention he’s a cop?) Along similar lines, Since her husband’s wannabe girlfriend refers to the local mob boss as “Uncle Joey”, so does Shelby – even though it’s really, really obvious that this is a moronic thing to do, especially (as with Harris) to his face.

Basically, Shelby’s kind of an idiot. I find it incredibly hard to swallow that she could, or would, buy a car without knowing the make or model; I don’t know if the author was trying to avoid any kind of use of brand names, or if she is herself ignorant of such things, or if Shelby is really supposed to be that oblivious. I know next to nothing about cars, but I know a Buick from an Audi (which if I recall correctly seems to be what is being used here). There are commercials on tv every twelve minutes unless you’re watching PBS, and depending on what the show is up to half of them can be car commercials – you should know roughly what a given make will cost whether you want to or not – and you should certainly be able to make use of the make and model name when the bleeding car is directly in front of you. There are insigniae. The salesman will mention it. There might be signs up. Again, I don’t care about cars – but this was so implausible as to just go straight up my nose.

The narrator was certainly not terrible – but I’m afraid she wasn’t great, either. Her enunciation was more precise than the writing called for, to me; a first-person narrative, basically the main character telling you “so that happened” should, I feel, be a little more fast and loose. And then a ways into it she started delivering “Dimples” like William Shatner, and that helped nothing at all.

Spoiler for the end: stuff happens, Shelby is injured again and loses the psychic powers, and tells her husband. He is relieved and happy and looks forward to all going back to normal. Then the powers come back. This she does not tell him. And honestly I think that was a big part of the book’s rating being as low as it is. The husband is written as a nice guy, faithful to Shelby despite being drooled over by the hot coworker with no plans to be otherwise, and wants only to have a happy life with Shelby and their kids. It actually offended me a bit (insofar as I could care) that she would plan to completely deceive him for – what, the rest of her life? Also, the woman isn’t a great actor – she does a terrible job of covering over the slips she makes responding to people’s thoughts instead of their words; how does she propose to pull this off?

I’m not even going to get into the whole mob tie-in. It’s fairly ridiculous – as is the sexual tension between Shelby and the boss’s bodyguard, which is kind of ironic in light of the husband’s hot coworker. By the time I finished the book, Shelby, her powers, the writing, the narration, and everything else that went into the whole mess had irritated me so thoroughly that I returned the audiobook to Audible. And felt better for getting my $1.99 back.

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