Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: The Man With the Green Suitcase

The Man With the Green SuitcaseTitle: The Man With the Green Suitcase
Author: Dee Doanes
Publisher: Wld Enterprises
Published: July 30, 2012
Format: Kindle
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 328 pages
Source: Received from the author
in exchange for an honest review
Read: December 31, 2012-January 2, 2013 
In  A Few Words: Unusual 
My Rating: 2 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis: What does... 
A prostitute, 
A corrupt businessman,and 
A disfigured young woman 

Have in common with a mysterious, old homeless man who carries a green suitcase? 

The old man comes into people’s lives because it is important for them to experience the visions that he is somehow able to show them—visions that even he doesn’t understand. But whoever he connects with will go through a transformation that will change the course of their life, for better or worse. The old man has no memory of who he is or even what the suitcase holds. But one day he will find out all about his own secret and dark past… 

This story is magical realism, realistic with paranormal elements, a mystery that needs to be solved, and a man and woman who will finally realize that they were meant to come into each other’s lives and remain forever

Melissa's Musings:

The overall concept of this book is really interesting. There's a homeless man who wanders the streets, stopping by a local shelter to get food and a shower, once a week. While there he's connected with several different people, some good, some bad, and he shares visions with them. This man doesn't remember who he is or his past and is pretty much a loner, all he knows is that he must pass on the visions to the people they are intended for.

 The interesting thing about this is the way the visions come about. When he is with someone and needs to pass along one of these visions, the energy builds up inside him, and the wrinkles on his face start to change. The energy buildup shines through the man as light. 

Of course this special ability makes people want to be around him even more, but he tends to shut people out and do his own thing. There are lots of other characters, but I don't want to talk much about them because I'll give away major plot points if I do. The main focus is on the man with the green suitcase and it's his visions that tie all of the characters in the book together. All of his visions do come true, in one form or another.

As interesting as this part of the plot is, I feel that the writing could have been a lot more polished to help pull the reader into the story more. The writing is somewhat stilted in places. It also feels like the descriptions are somewhat cluttered. I find it odd to be saying that there are too many details given, but that's what this felt like. It just feels like the author is trying too hard to set up the scene for the reader, and that leads the cluttered descriptions and halts the flow. Instead of flowing naturally, these overly descriptive passages feel clunky.

There are a few other weak spots in the structure that pull you away from the reading as well. The book switches tenses often, even in the middle of paragraphs. There are also a lot of instances of repetitive phrasing throughout the story, sometimes one right after the other. There's a section where the story alternates between Valerie and Gerald and they mirror phrases almost exactly, one right after the other. Sometimes this can work, but it didn't quite work here. The alternations with headings, in the middle of chapters was also unsettling. I think that if the story had simply been told from their perspective for the whole chapter it would have been better than alternating between them in the same chapter. 

Also, in a lot of sections there are sequences that I think are meant to be told as flashbacks which are all italicized. A few of these interspersed throughout the story would have been okay, but there are several and they are quite distracting.

One element of the book that I really enjoyed was the aspect of volunteerism. The author did a good job of really making it so that you can understand how life as a homeless person can be. It was nice to see characters who really enjoyed volunteering and helping others. There is also a character with mental illness in the story and while there was some description of that, it would have been nice to see that issue touched on a bit more thoroughly, in order to be able to better relate to Valerie's character.

The ending itself made no sense to me. The book was so focused on the man with the green suitcase and his power, that the buildup to his back story and his whole reason for being the way he was felt rushed, and it wasn't revealed until the very end, so I didn't have as strong feelings for him as I might have had I learned more about him sooner. The ending fell flat for me, due to lack of character development. 

The story is described as magical realism, and I feel that it was too focused on the magical part to really connect to it.

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