Hereafter known as WBOT, because, dang, that’s a long title!
Book Title: Wolves, Boys & Other Things that Might Kill Me
Author: Kristen Chandler http://krischandlerstories.com/
Publishing Info: Viking Juvenile, May 2010
Pages: 371 (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary fiction
Review Copy: Checked out from KCLS www.kcls.org
Why did I read this book?
Because it’s actually NOT about werewolves.
In which I learn I Really. Truly. Hate editing errors.
When I read a book and run into a typo, I think, “Darn.” When I read a second typo, I get a little irritated. When I read a third typo, I get a little agitated. I think, “Come on, guys. Hire me!” And when I read my fourth typo, well, things get ugly.
I had read my fourth by page 87. “We wonder into the crowd.”
Then, I started keeping track, just to make sure I wasn’t being completely irrational. (Us editor-types do tend to get a little irrational with easily-fixed errors like this. It concerns our families. They stop writing around us. Or they twitch violently if they have no choice.)
It got worse.
Simple typos: “Chicagc.” (pg 179)
Missing words. “’I read about it in book about cattle drives.” (pg 262)
Inconsistencies. “We take Jean’s Cadillac.” (pg 321) “I roll down the window and let the cold air blow my foggy thoughts out of the truck.” (pg 323)
And that’s just three of the many typos I found. (OK, by many, I mean like 10 or so. I still can’t decide whether I’m being irrational or not here. My teen reader/writer friends tell me they didn’t even notice the errors.)
It’s hard to blame any one person or position for all the errors. In an ideal world with limitless budgets, a book will go through several different editing passes. Each editing pass will be done by a different person, and the author will get a chance to double-check each editing pass before it goes on to the next. The first pass would be a very high level look at the novel’s basic structure: do the scenes make sense where they stand? Is there any information missing? Are the characters developed appropriately? The final pass checks for misspellings and grammatical errors: are the commas in the correct places? Are words missing?
That last pass, in my opinion, is the hardest to do. Because the world isn’t ideal. Schedules are tight and budgets are tighter. The same person is called upon to do multiple passes on the same work, but familiarity breeds blindness. By the time I’ve read something three or four times, it’s much harder to see those teeny errors. My brain just automatically fixes them and moves on. Fresh eyes, even for editors, are a gift that is sometimes quite difficult to find.
But I Really. Truly. Hope the publishers find those fresh eyes and put the book through a new proofreading pass when they release the paperback edition.
And in which I learn I Really. Truly. Love circular stories.
Lest you think I’m just a whiner, I did learn something much more valuable than hire a damn good editor and proofreader before publishing something. I learned I loves me a circular ending. In an early chapter (Chapter 5, “Just Good to Get Out”), KJ gets to row for her dad. She loves it. She’s forgotten her gloves, but she loves it. Until a storm blows up. All kinds of things happen but the upshot is that KJ quits rowing—she’s hurt, she’s embarrassed, she panics. Her dad tells her to “Stop rowing like a girl.”
And then she fails. It’s heartbreaking.
An almost identical repeat of this scene, including KJ’s dad’s voice telling her to “stop rowing like a girl,” turns up at the end of the book. And I just loooooves that. I’m not going to tell you what brought KJ on the water again or what happens next, but read it. And learn how a repeat of a scene can show us so much about how a character has grown and changed. Or not.
And in which I learn repeating key words and phrases is actually a good thing.
My Editing Certificate program at the UW had us read an excerpt from Can Do Writing by Daniel Graham and Judith Graham. In it, the authors recommend repeating key words throughout your document. That idea sparked a bit of a rebellion as us creative types thought Nuh-uh. We’d never repeat words. That’s just wrong. And boring.
Till you read Chandler doing it and doing it well. Words change their meaning with repetition done right. Look for changes in
- Stupid as sticks.
- It’s good to get out.
- Wolf Girl.
As these phrases are repeated again and again in different contexts and by different people, they gain deeper meanings and remind us readers of what’s happened earlier in the story.
The Compulsive Reader: mostly positive, some spoilers
Book Kids: mostly positive, no spoilers
Frenetic Reader: somewhat negative (I had a hard time finding negative reviews for this book). Spoilers are hidden but available.
99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall…
998 more books to go. Next week: Impossible by Nancy Werlin