When I read the excerpt on Amazon I thought Village might be an interesting if not all that well written a book but as I read past the excerpt I realized how poorly written it really was. I have called it derivative and I still hold that opinion. Derivative is not the end of the world if there is a writer of sufficient ability writing the story but that is not the case here.
On its surface Village would seem to have a lot going for it- a heart-warming story of a diverse group of small town adults coming together to provide a home and security for the main character, George, and his little sister. I love these stories but they only work if the characters work. The characters don’t work here.
The characters are for the most part clumsily drawn, Eleanore is an almost silent cipher more of a prop for George’s story than a sympathetic little girl, Archie is a buffoon whose speech is so badly written that it has to be a deliberate choice of the author, and then there are the village villains- so over the top, especially Waverly the Beauty Queen, that even a 5 yr old would be rolling their eyes. There is no subtlety, no nuance, even the “good” characters aren’t very likeable because there is no passion in their actions, George feels more like a device to help the story along rather than the central character that the story should be about. It is all tell not show.
I understood that this was supposed to be a YA book but it is only YA in parts, some parts seem like the writing is more suited for younger children but not all of it and some parts seem written for a slightly older age group.
The writing was at times rather clunky or confusing or just wrong, “George sobbed into arms on the big table”, “”The old Vardin High School,” George exclaimed. “I’ve heard the stories about him””, “”Oh. Your mother’s family? Obviously, right?””, “… dressed in what George imagined was Resort Attire”.
There are all the components of a good story for YA , the good boy, the bad boy, the pretty girl, the imminent loss of home, the helping hands of friends, secret tunnels, the ancestral mansion so close yet so far away. It’s all there but Spence was not up to the task.
There are any number of good stories built on this premise so keep looking because this isn’t one of them.