Exciting Beginnings

I really liked the TV series Flashforward and was disappointed when it was canceled.  I wanted to know how it ended so I thought I’d read the book the series was based on. I went to the bookstore, and as usual, I read the beginning before I decided to buy it.

The TV series began the moment the world woke up from a two-minute blackout. The city looks like a war zone. Every car is stopped, turned on its side, or is flipped upside down.  A helicopter is falling from the sky and crashes into a class high-rise. People are dazed and wounded.  In a hospital, a patient that was being prepared for an operation died during the blackout.

As the story progresses, the characters learn that everyone in the world had a vision of the exact moment in time.

Okay, I’m interested.

I thought the book would be as good. Not so much.

The book began with a long description of the building where the experiment, that caused the blackout, happened. It tells where the windows faced, where the elevator stopped, the four paintings on the wall, one is French …

We finally meet Lloyd, one of the physics. He just gave up his entire wardrobe so his fiancé could buy him a new one.  We see what he’s wearing.

We meet his fiancé; we see what she’s wearing.

We meet the other physics; see what he’s wearing.

And the experiment … four …three … two … one …

We see Lloyd’s vision. He’s not in bed with a beautiful blond as in the TV show. He’s in bed with a woman so old her checks are sunk in. Emotionally, he’s repulsed, but his body is aroused.

And I realize the book is not as well written as the TV series.

The beginning of a book has only a few paragraphs or pages, at the most, to capture a reader. Therefore, the beginning better be good.

Olsen Scott Card begins his novel Seventh Son with Peggy picking eggs. Picking eggs has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the book. Peggy isn’t even the main character. Alvin Miller, Jr. is, but he doesn’t show up until the fifth and sixth chapter when he’s born. So why start with Peggy? Why not start with Alvin’s birth?

Character building.

Peggy is a touch and has the power to see and know things no one else can. When she speaks, people listen and do as she says without question. But even before Card tells us this, he first introduces Peggy as a five-year-old girl.

We meet her, as she’s picking eggs, which she is not supposed to do, but she does anyway to prove to her Mama she’s big. Only she doesn’t get all the eggs because she’s scared of one old, Blood Mary hen.

Peggy practices the lie she will tell when she’s found out. Her father finds the eggs she has not picked, cachets her in the lie, and punishes her for it.

Father Horace is the dominant figure in this scene and Peggy is scared of him. But when little, five-year-old, Peggy is torch, she is dominant of the entire town and people respond accordingly, including her father. When she tells him what to do, he does not reminder that he is the father. He runs to obey.

It’s not just picking eggs that makes the beginning of this book so interesting. Card shows us little Peggy through her thoughts; the thoughts of a five-year-old girl. ” She gave no never mind …” “… little Peggy showed her.” “… and if one got missed I forgot forgot forgot.”

The beginning of this book, about a five-year-old girl, is much more interesting than the description of a building.

I put Flashforward back on the shelf and left the bookstore with a different book.