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  • Posted July 31, 2013

    Niceville is probably the strangest, most boring book I¿ve ever

    Niceville is probably the strangest, most boring book I’ve ever read. Why is it boring? Because it makes no sense. It starts out interesting enough with a boy disappearing from Main Street in broad daylight, while he was glancing through a mirror in a pawn shop. One moment he’s there, the other moment he’s not. When I read this part of the synopsis, I was hooked. Then they find the boy inside a tomb, which hasn’t been opened in years, traumatized to the point that he falls into a coma for years. Still going strong.

    Then the book completely changes, like somehow it morphed from a horror novel into a crime novel, and it’s not a good change. We meet three robbers who are on the run after robbing Niceville’s most prominent bank. Neither of these robbers are remotely interesting. They’re vulgar, happy to shoot anyone on their way, and anything but scary. In fact, if they’d been left out of the story from the get-go, then the book would’ve had some potential. As the book is now, way too much time is spend on the robbery and the consequences, on the gangsters themselves and their destiny, and it’s all as boring as it can get. Then there are the cop stories, which don’t work either.

    In the end, this book is a mismatch of stories glued together, although they barely make sense together. Some parts of the book worked, like that old lady disappearing in her creepy mansion. That was brilliant, and I really enjoyed that scene. For all I cared, it could’ve just skipped from the disappearing boy and finding him again to the old lady vanishing and the cops investigating the vanishing case. The robbery made no sense in the context, and when it was tied in to the other events in the end, it didn’t convince me. The writing style was sloppy and dull, like the author lack affection for words. Chapters are chopped off midway and we’re sent to another perspective and another place in the next, only to pick up where we left off several chapters later. Sometimes this approach may work, but Carsten Stroud’s Niceville is a prime example of when it doesn’t work.

    The characters are bland and boring. I’ve finished reading the book two days ago, and already I can’t remember the name of the robbers. Nor do I care. The main characters are the missing boy, Rainey, and a police detective named Nick and his wife Kate. Would the story just have evolved around these three, it would’ve been a lot more interesting. Nick has the start of a personality, shaped by the idea of a history, but he doesn’t fully deliver. He’s like an idea, not something fully developed. Rainey has no personality, and Kate lingers in between.

    The idea behind the book isn’t half bad. A town shrouded in mystery with several families locked in the middle of it and an ancient family mystery tying them all together and luring them to the darkness. I liked that – the town setting was claustrophobic, the ghost appearances intriguing. All the rest falls flat though, and the idea lacks proper execution.

    One start for trying. I doubt I’ll pick up the second book in the series.

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