(Credit: J A Konrath)

Since WordPress is currently having a SOPA blackout, posting seems a bit ridiculous, but sometimes you’ve got to write.

I decided to read J A Konrath’s The List because he’s self-publishing books and making a lot of money. I wanted to know what it was about this author which could enable him to make sales he claims bring him in thousands and thousands a month. He does have a long list of books and has been previously published traditionally, but has since thanked publishers for turning other books of his down, because he’s cashed in from those rejected books. If you want to be totally blown away, read his post here. Then, before you can say but, read this one and this one.

So I thought I wanted to try out one of these novels which everyone was obviously picking up and reading.

I settled on The List, because the premise seemed interesting and Konrath said it was selling well. It’s about a cop who’s investigating a murder and discovers that the victim has the same tattoo on his foot that the cop has on his own. The cop had never been able to find out where the tattoo came from: he had been adopted. Some time later in the book, we find out that he and a list of other people with tattoos on their feet were actually clones (or copies really) of famous people and that copies of serial killers were after them.

The book does move along at a fast pace and I did enjoy it, taking into account the US$3.99 price tag. However, reading it felt a little like eating junk food. It’s nice while you’re eating it, but afterwards it’s unfulfilling. A week later and I’ve already almost forgotten it. Maybe this has to do that science fiction and fantasy are my genres of choice, or maybe it’s just that nothing in the plot was that exciting.

Konrath’s dialogue is also painful when you’re listening to a Kindle using speech to text. He only very infrequently tells you who’s speaking, even in three-way conversations, so it becomes a guessing game as to who said what. In addition, I found the characters hard to believe. They were active and they reacted well with other characters, but it was hard to imagine them in their everyday lives. One exception was the female character, who was acceptably drawn. The banter between two of the male characters was also extremely puerile. This may be close to life, but it had me pulling my hair out as the reader.

All in all, I can see why many people like Konrath’s popcorn books, even if I didn’t think much of the one I read. Yet, the experience has made me think deeply about the role of publishers to save readers from themselves. It made me also think about some people’s luck or ability to catch a wave at exactly the right time.

I’d give this book a 3/5.