Friday, October 22, 2010
Posted by lea at 2:23 PM
The Third Twin is a thriller about the genetic cloning debate and the dangerous mystery that its feisty (and of course attractive) protagonist, university researcher Dr Jeannie Ferrami, stumbles upon.
At the risk of sounding like a pretentious literary wanker, based on this novel alone I have to say that Ken Follett is a great storyteller but not a great writer. The Third Twin is a very fast-paced and absorbing novel, but the narrative voice isn't always believable, and is at times downright awkward.
Firstly, the good bits. It's a hefty book but easy to read, and I couldn't put it down. The story races very quickly (and not at all believably) in the course of a single week or so, in which Dr Jeanne discovers a major cover-up, gets her life threatened several times and takes down the big powerful bad guys.
But the bad bit is that the characters are extremely one-dimensional and while it has a whip-cracking pace, it has no emotional depth whatsoever. The story of Jeannie's raped friend was particularly unmoving and unconvincing. The dialogue is sparse at best and awkward at worst, and the narrative has some major holes and employs a lot of cliches.
To be kind, I'd say it's probably a story for its time. Being published in 1996, it was possibly even ahead of its time. But now, in light of all the more sophisticated and polished stories of a similar vein, it smacks of amateurishness. We've become accustomed to authors who research their topics in depth to maintain narrative integrity, but it feels like this book was written in a hurry with nothing but the broadest ideas about the complex topic it's based on.
Ken Follett paved the story for writers like John Grisham – great airport novelists, but Pulitzer Prize material they ain't. As long you know what to expect, I think you can enjoy his extensive range of published novels, because after all, we all need a good airport novel sometimes.