Well, hello there, everyone!
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve missed this place. Life got in the way once again, but I’m glad to be back with another spork for you guys. The source of this spork is a book my sister picked up that she seemed relatively excited about, and wanted me to take a look at after she’d finished it. However, once she’d gotten to the ending she told me it was really disappointing, so I thought I’d take another look at it; this time in more detail. I read through a few pages, along with the blurb on the back. It wasn’t encouraging.
I have no issue with young adult as a genre of literature. It has every right to exist and the people who read it have every right to read it and enjoy it, and I will not try to take that away from them. My only issue with young adult literature is the pervasiveness of stories that use other genres such as fantasy, action or horror to mask a predictable plot, fill a story with bad dialogue or unlikeable characters that are two-dimensional and make stupid, terrible decisions. I’ve seen so many of those and they seem to be marketed at just one demographic, more of a product like soap or cheese than words that mean anything. And they invariably end up being turned into some Hollywood schlock that stars the same A-listers that starred in the previous hit YA movie adaptation, or maybe some new up-and-coming actors who have an uncanny physical resemblance to the same A-listers that starred in the previous hit YA movie adaption. Does this make me sound like I really hate YA lit and their subsequent constant movie adaptations? That’s okay, because I do. Well, the bad shit, at least.
Lockwood & Co. – The Screaming Staircase is a book by Jonathan Stroud. I’m familiar with his Bartimaeus trilogy, having enjoyed it when I was in middle school and also having read the prequel novel that came out when I was about thirteen or fourteen. He’s a decent writer, around the same level as Rick Riordan. If he’d been published in the 1990’s he probably would have joined the ranks of someone like R.L. Stine. As of yet, I’m unfamiliar with his newer stuff which is not really a bad thing, I think. Let’s take a look at the front cover of the book.
The first thing that’s immediately noticeable apart from the giant silver text that reads ‘Lockwood & Co.’ is the young man holding a sword and attempting to look threateningly at the reader. Or maybe he’s smoldering. Given the antics of previous YA heroes, I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s obvious that this guy here is the hero of the novel and the eponymous Lockwood. He’s a pretty generic looking tall white teenager with dark hair who’s rather smartly dressed (I like coats and he’s wearing quite a nice one). I have one issue, though. The hand that’s not holding the sword appears to only have three fingers, which is really bothering me. It may just be the way the cover art was made, which to me is kind of sloppy. There’s really nothing too special looking about him. I’m sure Stroud is going to tell me all through the book about how cool/attractive/smart he is, so we’ll wait until then. Hilariously enough, at the bottom right corner of the book is a glowing review of the book from none other than Rick Riordan – ‘Stroud is a genius’, he says. This may be nothing other than two authors writing in the same genre just being friendly with one another, but something about it just rubs me the wrong way. It feels foreboding, like a sign or a warning that the waters ahead will not be at all smooth sailing.
Before I have a heart attack, let’s turn to the back and read the blurb, shall we?
The dead are back to haunt the living.
Ooh. Sounds interesting. But familiar. You’ve managed to pique my attention with that.
Evil spirits crowd the streets after dark.
You mean to say that there are so many evil spirits around nowadays that they can fill the streets after the sun has gone down? That’s a lot of evil spirits! How has civilisation not collapsed through the sheer anarchy and madness that would undoubtedly follow such an insurgence?
With ghostly criminal cases on the rise, psychic investigations agents are in demand as never before.
I see. So this book takes place in a parallel universe where this kind of thing is normal. Ah. Well, that would explain why people are still sane and civilisation hasn’t collapsed.
The smallest, most ramshackle – but arguably the best – of these agencies is Lockwood & Co.
Oh dear God, is this going to be a mashup of a Speshul Snowflake story and an Underdog story? It better not be either of those things. Please. Don’t do it.
Meet the dashing,
Anthony Lockwood; his loyal, book-loving deputy George Cubbins;
You know that Cubbins is comic relief. You just know it. And that’s what makes this blurb so insidious. Characterisation is just thrust into a dark corner and beaten with sticks because why make well-written characters that require development when you can just slap two adjectives on them and give them a funny name? What’s worse, he’s probably fat, too. Just to find more things for the audience to try and mentally laugh at him for. God.
and their newest agent, brave Lucy Carlyle.
Calling it now, this will be the shameless reader-insert/shipping setup female character. Fucking calling it now. This is what’s gonna happen.
Together they must use their Talents
FUCKING RANDOM CAPITALISATION TOO ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME
to keep you – and themselves – alive…
And let’s end with an ellipsis, because suspense, right? God, this book is gonna be another doozy. Urgh.
Okay, that was just the outside of the book. The next time, we will delve into the first chapter. Just like my last sporking, we’ll do one chapter per article. The book’s got around 420 pages worth of actual writing (let’s hope that’s true, for the love of God let’s hope that’s true) and they’re divided up into five parts.
- I – The Ghost
- II – Before
- III – The Necklace
- IV – The Hall
- V – And After
I don’t know how many chapters are in each part but I suppose we’ll have to find out. I’ll see you guys next time when we find out what the fuck Stroud’s talking about with his overly vague section titles.