Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Watersmeet

Abisina is an Outcast, a hated child, hated because of the color of her hair and her unknown father.  Her mother's status as village healer has kept her alive, but can't restrain the villager's hate, disgust, and fear.  And then Charach arrives, a charismatic and seemingly beautiful leader.  Under his control, the Outcasts are hunted down and killed - and so is Abisina's mother.

With only her mother's dying words and a necklace to guide her, Abisina must find her way to her father, at a myserious place called Watersmeet.  But even if she is able to reach this safe haven, will she be able to escape Charach's spreading evil?

Entertainment: ★★

Here's the thing: I'm not a fan of Moral Stories.  You know, the kind that teach you to Play Nice With Others.  First, there were just too many Morals (at least three main Moral Lessons, plus plenty of minor ones).  Also, they got heavy-handed, even tending towards preachy.  At one point, a character laughs, then quickly adds, "It's not right to enjoy his fear. We won't get anywhere if we seek revenge!"  Not only is it confusing characterization, it's just ridiculously un-subtle.  Moral Stories can be okay, but this one was just overdone.

That aside, I really couldn't find much to enjoy in Watersmeet.  Maybe it's because I've read a lot of similar books lately, but it just came off as bland.

Plot: ★★

Okay, so, heroine who grows up hated and despised by her people, with a mysterious and absent parent, goes on Epic Journey.  And the story concludes with an Epic Battle.  It came off as Fantasy 101, the most basic outline for a fantasy-fiction story that has been used infinitely many times before.  Plus, the whole thing seems quite deliberately designed to faciliate Moral Lessons.  Please, put plot over Morals, or your plot suffers greatly and I'm forced to give it terrible ratings.

Characterization: ★

Abisani was... I don't know.  That's kind of the problem.  Her main characterization is the Prejudice she must Overcome (see above comments on the Moral Lessons) and also her emotions of anger/fear/need for revenge that she must also Overcome.  But as a person?  What she likes, dislikes, dreams of? I would've loved to get to know her - she had a great starting point - but unfortunately she ended up becoming more of a Moral prop than a character. And I'm still not sure what she really looks like, other than dark hair and green eyes.

The villian, Charach (aka the White Worm), fell victim to my least favorite flaw.  He was evil just because he is full of evilness.  Why does he want to conquer the world? Oh, just because.  Why does he hate goodness and light and small children? Well, come on, he's evil.  In fact, he oozes evil slime that kills everything he touches, just to add more unnecessary emphasis on his evil.  Villains, in my opinion, are often more important than the hero of the story, and Charach really fell flat.

A few of the other characters were interesting, many were only average.

Writing: ★★★

Abbott excels at character descriptions, and Abisani's internal conflict came off as fairly realistic. My only real quibble was that the Epic Battle was epicly lacking.  The actual fighting (beyond being far too short) was written more as a series of still, posed shots than a realistic, dirty, tangled, moving, crazy battle. Beyond that scene, however, the writing was decent.

End Result: two stars. I was not impressed.

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