Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Dig: A Book Review. . .

I got the book, 'The Dig', for Christmas back when I was in high school. Which means, I have had the book close to 8 years. Despite owning the book for so long, I never once actually got around the reading it. This isn't a matter of me not enjoying to read. I do like to read. I have read several books over these last 8 years. Some books, I have even reread on a few occasions. Why has 'The Dig' been ignored for so long? First off, it wasn't a book that I ever had the desire to read in the first place. Secondly, it is a book that is based off of a Science Fiction Computer Game. A science fiction computer game that I've played and I didn't actually enjoy. As a rule, I never bothered reading books based off movies because I usually found they were written by talentless hacks. Who writes a book based off a film??? Most films are usually visually compressed versions of much better novels. How good could a book be that is based off a film??? If that is my view of books based on films then what would I feel about books based off computer games??? If 8 years of avoiding proves anything, I don't think very highly of it.

Alas, I have small quirk about me. I can't stand owning something that I haven't used, read, played or watched. It bothered me that I owned a book that I could not say that I had read. It started to eat away at me. So last year, I decided to open up the book and give it a go. I finished reading it on Monday.

A book that took me close to a year must be a pretty good sign of my opinion on it. I closed that book and shoved it away countless times. I have read several books inbetween reading that book. But my flaw crept back at me, I couldn't stand starting on a book and not reading it to it's completion. What if it started to get good? I'd never know if I didn't start to read it.

'The Dig' is a book that is about 3 astronauts that are sent up to knock a giant asteriod off it's track to devestate Earth. At this point, it probably sounds like 'Armageddon', the horrid film starring Bruce Willis. The twist is, after they succeed on their mission the Astronauts explore the asteriod and it's brand new man made crater. Through a serious of events, they stumble upon an activation device that triggers the astriod into a transportation machine. The transport takes them to a far off deserted planet. Thus the story is about the three that try to find a way t get back home. That is the basic premise of the book. I have to say, it sounds like it could be a fairly good read. Except I had played the game and found it fairly dull. Unfortunately, the book was on pace to be the exact same thing.

The plus side, the book contains three very distinct characters. Boston Low - a cynical, veteran, black belt, sarcastic, lonely Astronaut. Ludger Brink - a dry, genuis, German scientist. Maggie Roberts - a pretty, spunky, intelligent, tough reporter. It's an interesting cast of characters. Boston and Maggie even have a decent 'romantic' type subtext throughout the book. The characters do get fairly fleshed out through the entire story. It is a easy thing to do since they are basically the only major characters in the entire novel. All in all, I felt like I grew to know the people and I cared about them. Character driven stories have always been the most interesting and important to me.

Problem? I don't find the author that great of a writer. Alan Dean Foster. He seems to be an author who likes to make movies into books. He also has done some Star Wars universe based books. In this book, I felt his style to be very dull and basic. The worse part, the first 150 pages of the book seemed very painfully slow. Very slow. Those 150 pages took me most of the year to get through. Nothing happend. They didn't even get to the planet until the end of those pages. Yet in the computer game, you start on the planet. What was the point of making up 150 pages of pure dullness? It did allow me to get to know the characters but it also slowly killed me inside with the longer it dragged on.

What about the other 200 pages? Much better. Very much better. Once they are on the planet, the story begins to pick up. It improved enough that I probably got through those last 200 in the last week or so. I definitely enjoyed it much more. Actually, I'd almost argue that while the first 150 dragged; it was the last 200 that seemed rushed. The book seems to have pacing problems. I think, the part on the planet would have benefitted to be more of the novel.

I did enjoy the last part of the book. It contained lots of classic fantasy. It had lots of cool monsters and drama. The characters where pushed to their limits. It even had a mystery about what happend to the former inhabitats of the planet. Even though, the mystery wasn't too hard to solve. To be honest, the ending of the book was really rushed and thrown together. All the problems in the book seemed to get wrapped up in 2 pages. The big mystery of the book, seemed to get solved by the hero in a matter of seconds once he became aware of the problem. That's a bit of a letdown. Plus the final ending of the book was a little too much Hollywood Ending mushy. A whole lot of cheesey.

To be honest, I don't even know why I'm holding out on giving away the ending. It's not like you will read this book. I'm not going to recommmend it. If you do decide to give it go, my reading time was about 18 months. Try to top it.

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