Sunday, April 4, 2010

Off Limits (2)

Author: Devorah Rosen
Translator: Sandy Bloom
Publisher: Sapir, Feldheim
Copyright: 2010

OK, so I finished the book a couple days ago, and I was thinking about it. It's a little hard to decide what to write, because of this: It's not a great book, and I could list all the things that bothered me about it, but at the same time, it's not a terrible book, either!

So for the negative parts: The characters are mainly flat, each one has a specific characteristic and sticks to that the entire book. The bad guy is very stereotypical - a gone-off-the-derech Jew must obviously be an evil person, right? Well, not necessarily, but in this book he ends up running all sorts of international illegal activities. Other characters also fall into stereotypes - the policeman, the poor-goy-turned-rich... We never get to really know the main character either, and though originally I thought the book would be character-driven, it turns out to be plot-driven, and we hardly get to know the characters at all.

One more point: The suspension of disbelief is stretched almost to the breaking point - not totally, but almost. Coincidences abound, like two poor runaway boys suddenly striking it rich, and the end of the story relies heavily on everything falling into place at the very last second. The various elements of the story pull together to create a whole, but it's a whole connected by crazy glue rather than woven together.

The story also feels lightly researched - just enough that the details seem plausible, but at the same time, it sounds like the author researched only the details necessary to the plot, because there are no details to flesh out the story.

On the other hand, I think this book is OK for young readers who just want a thrill, and don't care too much about the reality of the story. As I said, none of this is absolutely impossible, so it's not so terrible that some things stretch reality a bit.

I think it straddles the young-adult/adult label, but since there is no classification in Jewish books, the author wasn't forced to choose one or the other - and the book suffers for it.

Overall, not a book I would recommend, but not one I would warn you to stay away from either. How's that for a decisive opinion?

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