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After a long pause - it seems like my anger levels weren't high enough in recent months to muster the energy - I'm once again ranting about a book I hate and everyone else seems to love.

Please click the link only if you're brave enough to descent into a world of plot that is so horrible, it makes Dan Brown look like Victor Hugo.



If you've read the book, you already know from the cut-text that I have the urge to say bad things about Frank Sch├Ątzing's The Swarm (I'm sorry you had to go through that experience.).

Spoilers ahead. I want to talk about plot.

Stay with me, it's going to be long. I can do it without diagrams, though. Tolstoi, it's not.

Sigur Johanson is a wormologist (He's actually a biologist at the university Trontheim and an expert for worms). Accidentally, there's a strange species of deep sea worms that eat a lot of stuff with complicated names. Things threaten to collapse on a continental level. Basically, the world as we know it will crumble under the impact of worms (so far so awesome).

Leon Anawak is a whalist (he's a maritime scientist and studies whale behaviour) and is taken aback when he watches whales attack boats and kill people (no, it wasn't just the bad killer whales). *gasp*

More bad things happen: jellyfish kill people (jellyfish: they don't work that way), ships collide, there's a suspicious absence of the Gulf Stream, a massive crab attack, an epidemic in France (because of exploding lobsters) and - I almost forgot - a tsunami that kills a few million people and destroys most cities close to the Baltic Sea (the worms!!! Where's Kevin Bacon when you need him?).

Tina Lund dies (This is the first in a serious of unrelated characters doing unrelated things with no impact on the main plot (I lied. It's not the first, but at one point I stopped counting). I won't mention most of them.).

Naturally, all events are related. (Duh). After what feels like 500 pages, the world is in shambles.

Even though most of the damage has been done in Europe and the main protagonist is from Europe, the Americans start a task force (force is a good word, as they more or less kidnap every scientist and order them to... be scientists). This is because the Americans are dumb and evil (Everyone knows that)!! (And also, how else could he have included all those brilliant and never before used stereotypes about arrogant Americans leading the operation without having the first clue? HOW ELSE?)

They all go to a castle in the mountains for research. After all the above mentioned coordinated attacks that have picked up speed, culminating in the Tsunami and forcing the world to react as a unity, what do you think happens???? Exactly! Nothing. For excruciating months and about 800 pages, nothing really happens. This is because- Oh, look! An unrelated character is doing something unrelated!! Shiny!

The attacks stop and there's research going on. Kind of. Actually, everyone does a little bit of puttering around.

Johanson, who's not only a wormologist but a strange-thingologist, develops the following theory (theory is just a theoretical word, because we instantly know that he's right): There's an unknown species living in the depths of the ocean since the beginning of time. They are doing things because... (uh, what do you mean, they need a reason to kill millions of people after coexisting for a hundred-and-fifty thousand years? Don't be silly.)

The Yrr (just for the record, I think that's a stupid name) are single-cell organisms and operate like tiny Borg (--> The Star Trek comparison is great, actually, if I may say so myself; the book swings the moral bat worse than Captain Picard, without having any of his boyish charm).

(If you're not going to listen to me and read the book, you can skip over the 400 page description of the father's funeral.)

Then everyone goes on a ship.

Let's just think about this for a moment. They (the Americans!!) know there's something in the ocean that makes every creature in it go wonky, and that has the power to stop the gulf stream. Would you put everyone who has even the slightest chance to fight back on the same boat and let them sail off into the deep sea? Obviously you would, because the book expects you to believe this is a good idea.

There's a secret lab thing we know must be there when we read the word 'ship' for the first time, but we need about 300 pages to discover it. Then we need another 600 pages to get inside the lab, and really, it's unexciting.

I feel I should mention the evil American antagonist with Asian background, General Li (American. General. Navy. Think about it for a moment). General Li (navy) is such an outrageously clich├ęd villain that I don't want to talk about her. I've repressed all memories of her badly written persona. There. I mentioned her.

The person representing the United States (general. navy.) (and who we won't mention again), wants to kill all Yrr, and she knows how to do it. Somehow we're made to believe that killing a species who's determined to erase mankind and destroys half of the earth while doing so is a bad idea (because she's a navy general).

Instead, everyone's darling, wormo-thingologist Johanson, develops a communication method that involves a dead man, Yrr-pheromones, mini submarines and blowing himself up in the middle of a tremendously boring 800 pages showdown. Don't ask - only MacGyver can make that explanation sound reasonable.

BTW, if you ever asked yourself how you can possibly make trained military dolphins boring, read the book! It's a great step by step guide.

Then we finally realise, why during the last 2,000 pages, we've constantly read about Karen Weaver. You don't need to know anything about Karen Weaver except that she was somehow around, is the token female character and love interest of Anawak (or Johanson (or some random character (I can't bring myself to care))). She is now saving the world after Johanson's (and navy general's) death (she and the above mentioned dead body take a mini submarine and while she remains in the boat, the body bravely jumps into the water to communicate with the Yrr - don't look at me). HUSSAH!

The attacks of the Yrr stop then, because the dead body which is full of their natural pheromones falls into the water and... (oh, stop those questions, will you?)

The book ends.

Whoever gave the book the label 'ecological thriller' was a lying liar. It's NOT. Stop calling it that!!! The book blames the Yrr for all ecological catastrophes ever. It basically lifts the blame for everything from climate change to natural disasters off mankind. That's the exact opposite of an ecological thriller.

I could write more about the blatant misogyny, two-dimensional characters and soul-destroying, never-ending science talk. But I'll restrain myself because it's a thriller, and good plot could have saved it. Note my use of the conjunctive.

That's all.

on 2010-08-16 02:26 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] vaysh11.livejournal.com
I hated "Der Schwarm" with a passion equaling yours.
you can skip over the 400 page description of the father's funeral. That's when I stopped reading the book for like ... er, six month, to pick it up again and skim until the ending, being thoroughly bored.

Please to be posting to amazon!!!!!!

on 2010-08-16 02:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] vanseedee.livejournal.com
I've bravely read through the whole thing because of its train-wreck character. The pseudo-scientific explanations (did you know that he stole some of those word for word?) were getting worse with each chapter.

I can't even imagine reading this from an editor's point of view. It's even worse because you can sense that somewhere in there a good story is hiding.

on 2010-08-16 04:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tree00faery.livejournal.com
Thanks for the warning! *sticks it in the "never to read" pile*

on 2010-08-16 04:14 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] vanseedee.livejournal.com
Be careful. The book's enormous size will make that pile unstable.

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