Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reader's Diary #1008- Jill MacLean: Nix Minus One

Not having much experience with novels written in verse (does Evangeline count?), I was initially put off by the style of Jill MacLean's Nix Minus One. It's not poetry, I balked, it's simply an excuse to tell a story in short, choppy sentences and sentence fragments. Before long, however, I not only settled in, I grew to appreciate how well the style fit the story and the narrator's voice. Labels be damned.

Nix Minus One is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old boy named Nixon,who lives in outport Newfoundland with his parents and slightly older and more rebellious sister Roxy. Initially the plot seemed to be that Nix, an introverted somewhat awkward boy, will have to find a way to retrieve a dog that he has befriended from a new, abusive owner. However, roughly half way through the book, the plot makes a sharp left turn and the dog story, while still working itself out, takes a bit of a back seat.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the sudden drama. I was quite enjoying the slower paced, chronic drama up to that point. I saw myself and my sister in Nix and Roxy, I was enjoying the very authentic Newfoundland setting (the only thing remarkably different than my teenage years in small town Newfoundland was the cell phones). Trying not to reveal too much, I'll still advise you to stop reading now if you don't wish to read spoilers...

I supposed that perhaps the tragedy that happens midway may have been necessary to maintain the interest of the young adult readers at whom the book is aimed. I personally didn't need it and wasn't finding the book too slow at all but perhaps the younger crowd would. I was from the Degrassi high generation, I too probably would have needed the melodrama to keep my interest. Not that the drama in MacLean's book is implausible, it just seemed a bit overwrought. I also felt that there was a risk of the book becoming preachy at this point. The tragedy involves Roxy, who as I stated above, has been rebelling. No doubt the things she does are dangerous and stupid, but they're very typical. And while tragedies do happen to such individuals from time to time, the majority, fortunately, do escape unscathed. Not to condone such behaviour, but I wasn't sure MacLean needed to go as far as she did, as quickly as she did. Again, I'm speaking from a plot perspective. The second half of the book was still enjoyable, mind you, but I enjoyed the less melodramatic first half better.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I generally find a sudden shift in plot to be disruptive, almost as though one stopped reading the first book halfway through and started another.