Book Review – In The Garden of Weeia

in-the-garden-of-weeiaAuthor: Elle Boca

When the Unelmoija and her sister dropped Ernie off at Harry’s house near Portland, Maine before vanishing into time, they hoped to give him a fresh start. Unfortunately, Ernie, a lanky shy man with a natural gift for technology and gadgets enhanced by his superhuman Weeia abilities, fell in with the wrong crowd. Left holding the bag for a crime he did not commit, Ernie is sentenced to the Weeia equivalent of public service, doing grub duty at the Marshals Academy, where the Weeia super cops are trained to keep the superhuman race hidden. Breaking the rules there is not a good idea, but Ernie cannot resist a good challenge, never realizing he will be swept up in the middle of a sinister plot that could cost him his life.

I know this sounds like an odd way to start a review but I’ll do it anyway; The Garden of Weeia was confusing to me because I’m not sure why it was written and why I’m supposed to like it. Usually it’s pretty clear; an author might focus on character development or world building or just a straight up classically good plot. So usually when I review a book I can point at what the author was trying to do and applaud how they did it, or proclaim it not for me and move on.

Is it that I’m supposed to love the main character and follow his journey? I’m not sure I could believe that. The book starts with the main character, Ernie, doing a bad thing, like a very bad thing, like people die kind of bad thing. While the thing’s not one hundred percent his fault, he was one of a few people involved, and not once does he take responsibility for anything, he keeps going back and whining how it was unfair he was the only one who got punished, and that he didn’t want to do the bad thing but his mean friends forced him. I admit it’s unfair that Ernie’s the only one to get punished, but that can’t be my sole reason for liking someone. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to love a main character to enjoy a book, heck, some of my favourite books come from the perspective of a villain, but I’m not going to hope for his safety, and with how uninteresting he is and how much time he spends whining I’m more actively praying for his downfall.

So maybe the interesting world is why we’re supposed to like it? I’m not sure I believe that either. Is the world uninteresting you say? I have no idea, the writing is so staccato I can’t tell. This, more than anything else, is the books main problem, the narrative is a bit of a mess. A few more examples for you; I’m not sure if the book is taking place in our own world, with these people we’re reading about being a secret society or if we’re in a new world altogether. In fact, I’m not sure why there are powers at all, our main characters ability is that he’s ‘Good with gadgets’ (which incidentally, I’m pretty sure is the name of a kids TV special from the 90’s), but I don’t know why he can’t just be an intelligent guy, the only reason powers are in the book seems to be that people with powers have to hide for some reason, they don’t do anything.

What’s more the narrative will sometimes make us sit and wait with a character, with the fantastic example of a whole chapter being dedicated to ‘the morning one guy was a bit late cause he was tired so Ernie covered for him and then it never came up again’. Whereas when Ernie finds the titular Garden, he starts breaking in at night, with someone putting a new lock on the gate each time – yet this development is relegated to a conversation Ernie has with someone – why can we not just go experience it!? Why must we sit in an office and wait for late comers yet be relegated to stilted conversation narrative for breaking and entering? The telling of it all is just so strange and it takes a lacklustre story and knee caps it completely.

You see why I’m confused? It’s like going to a birthday party, of someone you don’t really like anyway, and being allowed to stay while the birthday boy opens his presents, then sent out to listen at the door when everyone starts playing party games. I’m not really sure what I’ve done wrong, but I’d like to join in next time please.

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