Unreview: Twelve by Jasper Kent
Published by Bantam Press on 01 January 2009
This is my second unreview of the year. I’m calling them unreviews as I’ve invested enough time reading book to get a feel for the contents without actually getting to the end. Now this is a little controversial as Aiden reviewed an incomplete reading Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney. But my reason for sharing is that not many people mention books they’ve put down and give their reasons why. So perhaps you’ll get an impression of me as a reader as well as see that when I get captured by a book why I’m so positive.
Anyway, Twelve is set in 1812 during Napoleon’s march on Moscow. Four soldiers enlist the help of the ‘Oprichniki’; Twelve people who seemingly bring plaque with them – as people die on the path they take reach Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov and his companions. They’re enlisted to help disrupt the march of the French. A task they seem to do it a little too well.
Twelve, is a vampire myth weaved around historical fantasy. It relies heavily on the atmosphere of war and the immersion of the reader in Alekei’s view point. And that’s my first problem with the storytelling. I’m not really liking the voice of Alekei. It’s not badly written. It’s just that, well, it’s kind of boring. Without being dismissive not a lot has happened in the first 97 pages and I’m not that keen to read the another 390 pages of the thing.
I guess it’s partly me as a reader. I’m open to most genres and writers but they need a bit of narrative oomph or a hook or an interesting character or something that interests me.
Twelve relies heavily on its link with history and the tease that the readers know the ‘Oprichniki’ are vampires. We’re just waiting for Alekei and his companions to realise it.
From reading other reviews. I’m missing out on the turn that takes place after 200 pages and especially page 270 but I’m not sure if they mention that to give readers a goal to reach so they know the last 200 was worth struggling with.
There is nothing wrong with the descriptions or the writing itself, but for me it just lacks that x-factor that draws me into a story. But if you do like historical novels with a twist you might want to read a few chapters first to see if it pulls you in.
There are a bunch of second (and more positive) opinions here.