Sunday, October 21, 2012

Diamonds... Er, I Mean, BONES Are Forever

Bones Are Forever (Temperance Brennan, #15)
Bones Are Forever by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For the first time since my review of The Graduate, I'm going to try to write a review in the style of the book I'm reviewing.

Everyone is familiar with Bones. The TV show character, that is.  TV Temperance is smart but socially awkward.  More than smart, really.  Genius.  And then there's Booth.  Sensitive but cocky.  Irresistible.  The chemistry between those two is undeniable.

But these are the books.  No one calls Book Temperance "Bones." Book Temperance narrates the action.  Mostly it's a running internal monologue.  Over time, her sentences have gotten shorter.  Choppier.  Fewer subjects and even fewer verbs.  Lots of adjectives.

Then there'll be an over-explanation of a scientific concept.  Like a hospital worker waxing poetic about a CT scan of body parts.
While entering instructions, she'd explained how the data produced by the scanner would be manipulated through a process known as windowing to demonstrate various bodily structures based on their ability to block the X-ray beam. She said that although images generated were historically in the axial or transverse plane, orthogonal to the long axis of the body, modern scanners now allowed data to be reformatted in various planes or even as volumetric -- three-dimensional -- representations.
I followed that.  I just didn't particularly enjoy it.  Would a CT operator really lecture the forensic anthropologist about how the scanner works?  Somehow I doubt it.  Plus it's hard not to stumble over the jargon when you've been reading five-word sentences.

This is book fifteen in the series.  After fifteen books, it's hard to avoid some repetition of plots.  So we start with a murder.  Or two.  Or several.  Tempe notices something unusual about the bones.  That gives the cops a clue to work from.  Then purposely or accidentally, she ends up in the field meeting suspects.  Sooner or later she gets a tickle in her brain.  Something she knows but can't put her finger on.  Shaking her head, she goes about her business.  And then something triggers the elusive memory.  Her jaw drops in disbelief.

The chapter ends.

In the next chapter, before Tempe can tell anyone where she is, or what big part of the case she's just figured out, someone hits her on the head.  (For variety's sake, sometimes they shoot her instead, but never fatally.)  Cue the pages of even shorter sentences. In the first person. Like this:

I wake up.
It's dark.
My head hurts.
Where am I?
What happened?
Did I drink too much and pass out?
My left arm is asleep.
Or maybe it's been cut off?
I shift position.
Nope, there it is.
Both arms are intact.
Pins and needles in the left.
Nothing compared to the pain in my head.
I open my eyes.
I close my eyes.
Wait for my stomach to settle.
Then I remember.
Someone hit me over the head!
I have to get out of here.
Wherever here is.
I slowly turn over.
Nothing above me but rock.
It's cold. Still dark. And quiet.
I open my mouth to scream and realize it's taped shut.
Then I hear a noise.
I freeze.
Is it a mouse? Or is someone there? Help!

Surprise, surprise, Tempe gets rescued. The bad guys get caught. Justice is served. But nothing can bring back the murder victims. Because diamonds bones are forever.

Postscript.  At the end of this book, Kathy Reichs takes an opportunity to give us an extended metaphor about her writing process, titled "Hypotheses, Plots, and Vegetable Soup."  Her brain is the pot in which the "narrative broth" simmers.  I'm not joking.

So for my own epilogue, I'd like to point out some of the more entertaining ingredients in this particular bowl of soup.
1.  ... I'd been dragged from a fire and deposited bum-up.  My leopard-skin panties had saluted the world.
leopard roar
My skin is NOT for panties!
I really, really hope that Reichs meant leopard-print panties.  Not only are leopards on the endangered species list, but fur underwear sounds really difficult to keep clean.
2.  "Nickleback is playing tonight.... I guess I'm not communicating very well, Detective.  Nickleback is an Alberta group."
That's funny, because there's a group called Nickelback that also hails from Alberta.  That's either a big coincidence, or Reichs doesn't know how to spell "nickel" and no one copy-edits her stuff anymore.  In fact, all the copy editors probably quit after they got carpal tunnel from writing "Sentence fragment!" in the margins.
According to my memory of a Rolling Stone article I once read in a doctor's office, one of the band members worked at Starbucks.  When he gave customers change, he'd say, "Here's your nickel back."
Presto, instant band name. 
 3.  This should be stuck in your head already, but if not, you are welcome.


Linda Sue said...

Okay, first off - I LOVE when you write your reviews in the style of the book. Also, the leopard-skin panties line is HILARIOUS! Or rather:

I rub my eyes.
It's so early.
Why am I up so early?
Oh yeah, I had to carpool today.
I hate early mornings.
Where should I begin?
Maybe a book review?
Just the inspiration I need!
That will do it.
Kick start the day.
What is this about?
Oh, right.
It's about diamonds.
Diamonds are pretty.
Wait, no.
It's about leopards.
Leopard-skin panties!
That's hilarious!
Time to do work now.
A good laugh.
Just what I needed.


Marci said...

Linda Sue captured it!!! Leading me to the belief that my first instinct was right... avoid, avoid avoid... and stick to the tv show which I adore!!! THANK YOU, Mainon! (Ummm... leopard-skin panties... wrong on SOOOOOOOOOOO many levels...unless they are worn BY THE LEOPARD who owns the leopard-skin!)

Anonymous said...

I've never watched the show or read the books, but I'm not sure I want much to do either now. It's a fun review, though. Well done.

Charlie said...

I think this might be your most enjoyable review yet, Mainon!

Lauren said...

yep the leopard skin panties reference had me in stitches! hahaha good stuff

Heather said...

I have read several of your reviews now, and you are hysterical! These are probably the best reviews I've ever read. I don't post much, but after reading another, and laughing more, I had to voice my accolades.

Reader One said...

I am totally amused by the mental image I have of a leopard rocking some leopard-skin panties. It's very sexy.

Reader One said...

Thanks for your comment, Heather! It made my day. :)