By Beth Cotten
Remember the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? As I recall, it bordered on a horror movie. The title stirred my muse to write this blog. My question is different and doesn’t provoke the same sense of dread as the movie title....but close. The question is, "What the $#@& Happened to James Patterson?"
On the way to visit my daughter in Indiana, I stopped at the airport gift shop to pick up a novel to read on the trip. I selected a James Patterson and quickly read the blurb on the book about the story line. Science Fiction is not my cup of tea, and this was a different genre from most of his nearly 60 books published since I read Virgin in 1980. So, I rationalized it must be good because it was a James Patterson novel.
I can count on one hand....maybe three fingers....how many books I started and did not read to the end. One was written in Spanish, and it was taking me way too long because my Spanish was "way too long ago." This Patterson book, The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, had a total of 220 pages. I read 80 pages to the end of chapter 31. Almost every other page is the beginning of a new chapter. I did not read further. This is by far the worst book I have ever read!
The premise of the book is that Daniel X is born with an extraordinary power unknown to our world. He is capable of creating inanimate objects and human and alien beings. As a toddler, from his hiding place, he sees his parents cruelly slaughtered, but the killer is not aware of a witness to the murders. Later, he discovers a list of names of super-powered, evil, alien beings and determines his father’s mission had been to assassinate these evil beings to save the world; thus the explanation why his father and mother were murdered. At the age of fifteen, Daniel takes up the search to complete his father’s mission. I will not be the spoiler and tell more.
I did some research:
- Reviews about the Daniel X series were split between those who thought the books were substandard to Patterson’s previous novels and others who praised them.
- The average review was three stars out of five.
- The books were written for young readers between the tweens and teens. (Well, I am a bit older.) Patterson explained the books were written to encourage the younger generation to read something other than comic books.
-The favorable reviews were from the youngsters or from parents and grandparents who were thrilled their child or grandchild was reading rather than spending all the time in front of a computer or television.
-Since 2005, Patterson published an average of 5.4 books a year --- seven alone in 2008. Can any author write four to seven quality novels a year?
Please, Mr. Patterson, don’t leave us “Oldies-but-Goodies” hanging. We were here first!