Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Book Review - The Joshua Files, Invisible City

Hi, the Writer here, folks! I am back for a second review on this blog. People are probably tired of me doing positive reviews. I haven't done a proper negative review yet because they're not many books I truly dislike. Honestly, there aren't! So I thought I'd balance it out, with a book which I thought was 'ugh!' after closing the final page. Today's victim shall be Invisible City, the first in a series of books called 'The Joshua Files', by M G Harris. *grumble*

Why did I grumble? Because the title mislead me, that's why! I thought it sounded cool. And when I picked it up and read the blurb, the story sounded intriguing. A boy who lives in Oxford, 2012, finds out his father had died in the jungles in Mexico. There were also reports of UFO sightings near the sight of the plane crash which had killed him. I was immediately wanting this story to read. I know this sounds a little shallow, but I also loved the cover. It has this weird, nylon coating thing over the actual book itself, as you can clearly see in picture. If you can't see that, get an appointment with the opticians, post haste!

That's the last time I ever judged a book by its cover, or by its blurb for that matter. It was awful! I knew there was something fishy when, at the bottom of the back cover, it tells the reader: READ PAGE 37. The reason why they did this was because it's the only exciting thing that happens in the whole bloody book! And the publishers must have known this. I mean, since when did a book tell you what page to read? Aren't you supposed to start then read more of it to find out what happens? Even so, the preview sucked monkey balls! Just Josh walking into his house and getting attacked by a burglar. Where were the UFOs that were promised? I thought this was going to be some great sci-fi mystery/thriller thing. Nope. That plot point was explained in a nutshell - all the UFOs aren't aliens but Mayan technology. The Mayans had technology? Are you joking?

Okay, Josh Garcia is the protagonist here, folks, and, seriously, could I ask for a protagonist whinier, brattier, more cowardly and treacherous than this dude? Honestly! I know characters aren't meant to be perfect, but really, they have to be likable. What on earth was going through M G Harris' head when she wrote that? "Hmm, abandoning your friends and condemning them to a deadly secret agency to save your own skin is a good idea." With Josh, it was all about him - how he was depressed cos his daddy died. Oh, wahh, wahh! Parent's dying is not a funny issue, but the character in my book has both his parents die and only mopes about it for, what, a couple of pages? At least seven chapters were devoted to how sad he was now because his dad's GONE! Oh, like you saw much of him anyway, he was a freaking archeologist, traveling all over the world most of the time.

So what was it about? I pretty much covered the first part of the book in the last paragraph, the next revolves around Josh and how he has become obsessed with whether his father's death was an accident or not. This would've been a good thing, except it was executed horribly. It seemed like he did it because he had nothing better to do, not out of curiosity, not because he thought it sounded strange. So, he travels to Mexico to investigate. I was hoping this would be the pivotal moment of the book where things finally start to pick up. Err... Did I speak too soon? Once he gets there, he finds out he has a half-sister who he never knew about (apparently his dad liked to sleep around a bit, the cheeky devil!). Don't know about other people, but when I find out I have a half-sister who I didn't even know existed, I would need a time out to mull it over. Josh's biggest reaction is: "Oh, really? Never mind. You can help me on my little adventure!"

All right, you're probably wondering what were the good bits in this book? Erm, apart from the chase along the motorway near the mexican jungle you mean? Well, no. Good parts are virtually non-existent in here - in my opinion. At the bottom of the swamp was disappointing too! In Crocodile Tears, Mr Horowitz describes a sequence trapped underwater perfectly. In Invisible City, it was just: it happened. Full stop. Not to mention Josh left his sister to drown! How selfish! Actually, I think she was already dead. Not sure, I haven't read it in months, but I refuse to read it again.

And here we come to the weak moments. Ughh, so many! This story could've been SO much better than it was. The entire plot just felt like a half-baked idea. Although, a clever take on the 2012 apparent 'doomsday' event was interesting, but not really developed. The writing was also flat. Not many similes or metaphors. Any in there are somewhat not very creative or broad: "He swept down the staircase like a hurricane." Wow, that fast? The worst part - everything was serious business. No humour at all! In every book I read, I expect myself to crack a smile at least once, especially since it's a children's book. It lightens the mood a bit, even if it's a horror novel. Jesus... is it too much to ask for Josh to crack a joke now again, even if his dad had just died? My main protagonist manages to do it.

The other characters just seemed to be there for no particular reason. Just some random people Josh had met on his online blog account (wait, what?) and met up to help him solve his little controversy mystery. Thank God the girl told him he was being a git! Like he decided to listen anyway. There isn't a single unselfish thought in his head which could possibly do that. I really despise Josh, even more than the supposed 'villain' of the book, which really confused me. We're told (by Josh, as he is, unfortunately, the narrator) that he is the bad guy at the start. Then later, Josh is like all surprised when the bad guy is 'revealed'. ... I'm getting a migraine here from trying to work out how that one works. Maybe, just maybe, Josh's character changes in the next books. Well, I don't care, cos I'm not reading them.

Unputdownable? I struggled to not put it down, to be frank. Yet, there are people out there who LOVED it. o.0 If you do like it, I don't mind, this is just my reflections on Invisible City. Comment if you think I'm wrong. I'm sure M G Harris is a nice woman, she seems to be, just her book isn't very good. Sorry. What would be a WAY more interesting plot twist is that Josh's dad was in fact kidnapped by aliens, who want him because he holds the secret to commanding the human race telepathically. His death is faked, the body being replaced by a replica and the aliens told the Mayans that the world shall end on 22nd December 2012 cos that's the day they execute their plans. Hmmm, not a bad idea...

Overall, I'll give The Joshua Files, Invisible City an:


Check out my YouTube page to find out what these grades mean. I'll give you a hint: it means GO BACK AND DO IT AGAIN! Here's my question for the day: apart from those in Twilight, which fictional character(s) would you just love to strangle? Me? Obviously, it's Josh Garcia.

See you in the next blog! Toodles!

~The Writer