The Traveler - John Twelve Hawkes Review

There is a time and a place for nearly every style of literature out there. I find myself reading a little bit of everything, and often owning up to things that I would never otherwise read. I'll go into a bookstore and see something that strikes me as interesting, read the back and decide that I'll buy it. I get home and realize that it's one of those books that I normally find repugnant, not because of the story, or the ideas presented by an author, but for the very basic reason (and there are so many out there that do this) that the writer thinks he or she is writing a screenplay.

We're a visual culture. Everything we do is in pictures and moving pictures. And so it makes sense that when a new author in the realm of suspense, thriller, or science fiction arrives they will take to the mistake of trying to show the reader everything. People love it anyways though, probably for the very reasons I listed. They like pictures, and if their words can be pictures too, all the better.

I however, have a much less tolerant view of the manner in which the modern pop-novel is written. I can't stand it. It's not even that Hawkes writes without a voice, just that he never tries in the first place.

Let's start out with the plot. It's sound, kind of cool actually. A metaphysical thriller in which an entirely different realm is possible, only accessible by certain people, of which there are now only two left. Enter the protectors of those specially marked and the evil illuminatus trying to rule the world who only want to capture and use these powers for their own benefit. Throw in Big Brother style control of the populace and some really extreme fight and chase scenes, and you have a highly stylized, Matrix affected thriller written for the sole purpose of being made into a film.

Like I said though, the plot was intriguing and for the most part I was fully hooked in the first chapter. The problem arose in the prose. This author writes with the stifled pen of a man watching it unfold before him. He's a journalist of sorts for something that never happened, all the while sensationalizing it with motorcycle chases and unnecessary back flips.

I will probably read the next novel in the series, and whether I enjoy it or not probably finish the series, if only because Hawkes created something in his universe that I want to know more about. His eye for suspense and a subtle mastery of the hook are the only things that keep this book afloat, but it goes on the shelf right beside The DaVinci Code as something I will never be able to read a second time and never purposefully recommend to any of my friends.