I have been asked by some of my readers who don't get my local paper where they can read my book reviews. So, I will be posting them here on Thursday or Friday before they see print in the Sunday edition. Enjoy!
by Neil Olson
Any time you have a major pop culture phenomenon, there will invariably be copycats. Take Harry Potter, for example. Many publishers have capitalized on the success of J.K. Rowling's books. Some are very good ('Eragon') some are not ('Midnight for Charlie Bones').'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown is no exception. Many, many authors have tried to duplicate its success. 'The Icon' by Neil Olson is one such example. I am afraid to say that it pales miseably in comparison to its inspiration.
Olson's plot revolves around an icon hidden in a Greek church. During World War II, it is captured and begins an odyssey which ultimately brings it to New York City. The novel opens with a flashback, which is incredibly confusing, along with introducing so many characters in 10 pages, you are unable to discern who to care about. It does not help that the characters are so poorly written they illicit very little sympathy anyway.
The reader leaves the intruduction in utter confusion then BAM! right into present day and a new batch of 'Who's Important To The Plot Now?'characters. The pace of the plot does not pick up anytime soon and by the time you get to an action sequence, you are beyond caring who wins. Inserted into all this mediocrity is a romance subplot with less chemistry than Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.
Just because your novel draws comparison does not automatically mean it is a bad book. 'Rule of Four' was compared to 'The Da Vinci Code' when it was published, and it did well. However, a good idea and a great writing style will win the day over a rehashed plot and a less-than-steller turn of phrase.