Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats
Friday, September 17, 2010
"Jacob's Ladder" by Brian Keaney
I found Jacob's Ladder while hunting a selection for this month's Book Club meeting. The title caught my eye first, making me wonder if it was in any way related to the 1990 freak show of a movie by the same name (it wasn't). I flipped through the first few pages and was intrigued by the the idea of the main character waking up in the middle of a deserted field with no recollection of how he got there. (Remind you of college? Yeah, well, it's nothing like that.) The book met a couple of the more important Book Club criteria (it was cheap, and Books-A-Million had multiple copies on the shelves), so I decided we would give it a try.
It was an interesting and fast read. There were plenty of questions to keep me turning the pages--why were the children in Locus and how had they arrived there? What had happened to their memories, and when might they be able to return to the families they knew they must have loved but could not remember?
But even with the absorbing aura of mystery, I'm afraid this book won't evoke the best Book Club discussion. The story had immense potential, but it was only spun into a single thread. As I read, I yearned for the complexity and depth Keaney could have given it with further development. I wanted strands of many colors woven into a tapestry. Instead, the straightforward and unadorned narrative reminded me of The Alchemist. Of course, Jacob's Ladder was written for kids, so I probably shouldn't complain about its simplicity. For what it is, it's a great story and is well-written.
The author has his own blog and you can read an interesting bit about the book here. And now I am off to book club! I hope you have as much fun tonight as I'm about to.