Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Lisa's Way by Robert Collins
Lisa's Way appears to be an attempt by Robert Collins (a fiction and non-fiction author) to create a story that appeals to and inspires teenage girls to step outside their traditional roles. This is a fine aspiration, and he might have pulled it off if he had dealt with the following issues:
1. Collins underestimates every character except Lisa; she's the only one in several worlds who tries to change the status quo and is capable of creative ideas--is this really plausible? No. The only reason Lisa is a hero is because everyone else are idiots.
2. He leaves out important characterization. Readers don't realize that Lisa has feelings for Little Wolf until the end of the book. She spends most of the book travelling and interacting with him, but it's only at the end that the reader finds out that she had been fantasizing about a relationship with him.
3. Everything goes right for Lisa and her companions. There's never a backfire. There's never a failure. There're no opportunities for Lisa to grow and change. She's the same person at the end as at the beginning; in other words, she's a flat character.
4. The dialogue can be boring and is sometimes employed only to share narrative information with other characters--information that the reader already knows and is not interested in hearing again. That being said, it doesn't have that robotic, cliched sound that bad dialogue can often have.
5. There's no subplot. Lisa just moves from place to place, trying to help people. The reader doesn't learn about anything else, and nothing from the outside worlds seems to affect her and her companions.
6. This book teaches that the end justifies the means: Lisa uses violence, kidnapping, and threats to make people come around to her way of thinking.
Structural and stylistic issues aside, the book is cleanly written. Either Collins has impeccable sentence writing skills, or he employs a copy editor. That being said, if you decide to read this edition, be prepared to ignore some typos.
In Lisa's Way, Collins's attempt to create an inspiring character is a success: Lisa is a boundary-pushing woman. But his attempt to create an inspiring book fails, because there are no other female characters that play a significant role in this book. Lisa surrounds herself with men, and seems to consider herself the exception the rule when it comes to breaking out of the traditional female role; in this book, it really is only Lisa's way.
Copy source: provided free by the author
Genre: young adult science fiction