Am I old already?
Dear heavens, reading this book makes me feel like I’m a sixty-year-old inside the body of a young adult because the writing here? The writing here reads like the stories written by tweens (I assure you I wrote that way as a tween before)—you know, the ones you immediately click on and devour in writing websites when you’re that age because “Oh em gee, he’s so hot! She’s so cool! THEY’RE SO CUTE!!!!” and the plot’s just a bunch of clichés thrown together with teeny splashes of originality if you’re lucky? Yeah, those. Harsh, yes, and I’m sorry. Even sorrier since Fault Line deals with such a serious topic, but this is the most accurate comparison that pops up in my mind. In fact, reading this whole book makes me want to question the person who gave this book the green light because I don’t think it should’ve been published the way it is. At all. Why? Read on:
- Desir’s writing is messy.
Point A jumps to Point C to Point B to Point Z. At one moment, Ben would be thinking about how he’s deeply in love with Ani, then the next paragraph would somehow be about how his buddy’s family’s not home, and then, the following one would go back to how Ani’s bringing him to a bathroom to clean their teeth so they can make out like the horny teenagers they are. Not to mention, Desir’s writing also moves between overly dramatic to incredibly boring, though not in the smoothest of ways. The whole book’s pretty much disjointed.
- The characters are flat.
A good plot is needed for a good story to be told, but when there are no good characters, a good plot may just as well be useless. With that said, I felt nothing for the characters. No rage, no sadness, no sympathy whatsoever. Ani’s a character trying too hard to be sassy-sarcastic but ends up being more bitch (and I like bitchy characters but Ani’s type of bitch is a no-no for me, I felt so embarrassed for her!) than cool. She loves art and art is supposed to symbolise something to her, but the meaning associated to art never seems profound enough to be thought of as a symbol.
Ben on the other hand, is a wannabe—another try-hard who wants to be cool and manly. In a sense, he’s a little more realistic than Ani but the way Desir writes him tears that thought into shreds because his character’s all over the place. Plus, for someone who wants to be seen as The Man most of the times, I find it funny that he notices the colour of Ani’s toenails, especially when considering that he pays a lot more attention to her boobs or her legs—which also leads to the fact that the characters are often objectified by their opposite gender and they’re really stereotypical as well. I can’t even form a complete picture in my mind of how they look like, so yeah, failure in the descriptive writing department.
- The dialogue is supremely awkward.
Dialogue is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of writing, but as I’m often told from numerous sources, the best way to go about it is to have someone act out the dialogue with you. If it doesn’t sound weird coming from their mouth, then woohoo! So, on that note, I actually did act out the dialogue in this book with my fellow drama friends and we all came to the agreement that a lot of them didn’t work because seriously, “You’re gonna be late. Banana bread French toast is downstairs waiting for you”. “Banana bread French toast”. Said that five times and I still don’t feel less awkward saying it.
- The romance is unrealistic.
At Chapter Two, I see the attraction between Ani and Ben as infatuation. At Chapter Seven, before shit hits the fan in Chapter Eight, I’m still thinking the same thing. At Chapter Twenty-One? Gee golly gee, that the infatuation has developed into some sort of obsession—a guilt-induced and guilt-driven thing. The time skips don’t help in this situation either. You know that writing advice that tells you to trim the fat, keep it lean? Here, Desir took away all the meat as well, leaving the tiniest bits clinging onto the bone because it seems like she has no idea how to turn that infatuation into something real and chose instead, to rely on time skips.
- The way the topic of rape was broached, and how it affected the rape victim and her boyfriend verges on unbelievable.
I’m not saying that the way Ani reacted isn’t completely plausible—there could be people who took the same path. She doesn’t have any solid proof, all she has are assumptions which sure, maybe that’s enough to drive her down on the path of self-destruction because she’s blaming herself but is that all? One night full of assumptions and off the cliff of sensibility she goes? Despite her insecurities, she’s a character who’s still strong enough to be sure that she can act the way she does prior to the incident. She has Ben to hold her hand and help her as well. Plus, she had sex with him multiple times so I’m sure she’s no stranger to masturbation which leads to the question of, how big is that bloody lighter? I mean, I get the point if it’s stuck too deep inside her hooha and you can’t get it out so surgery might be needed but otherwise, you can see where I’m going with this point. Of course, there’s also that part in the story that says that Ani’s the one who masturbated with the lighter on her own accord, and that her (best?) female friend says that she was acting like a “complete slut”. It doesn’t help Ani’s situation that Ben has questioned if she’s truly innocent and her ‘honesty’ is really honesty as well. Let’s not forget that he actually had sex with her afterwards because she needs ‘positive touches’ despite signs saying otherwise. He’s confused and doesn’t know what to do to help Ani heal, though he tries his best, but to let her do the things he knows is wrong and just stand there? Then, there’s that part where Ani becomes an actual slut too.
Also, Beth, that rape counsellor character is the least realistic rape counsellor I’ve ever read about. One moment she’s telling Ben to be open and accepting and all, then the next she’s shooting down their hopes of having the bad guys prosecuted. It doesn’t matter if she’s just a volunteer—that she doesn’t have much experience or whatever because bloody hell, people who haven’t been trained in such situations can give better advice. People who haven’t been trained in such situations can understand better ad they can even react better. So what’s Beth’s excuse? Nothing.
With that said, I almost DNF-ed this book, but for the sake of completing the reading challenges I’m taking part in, I forced myself to trudge on. Fault Line can be used as a prime example of ‘No matter the amount of research you do, writing a good enough story doesn’t happen without practice’. The first draft being a piece of crap rings true and the drafts following it can be just as crappy as well. I understand how difficult writing is, but this book simply lacks substance, coherence and punch. It couldn’t even draw a sliver of what I felt when I read Courtney Summer’s All The Rage, a book that deals with the same topic of rape. Even so, by the end of Fault Line, I can see that Desir is trying her best and I do like the ending, but do I recommend this book to you? No.