August 12, 2011

Cash Burn, by Michael Berrier

I’m going to be up front: I did not enjoy this book. In fact, I nearly left it unfinished, but I knew that in order to provide a full review, I needed to finish it. Plus, I have a slight obsession with finishing every book I pick up. So, I muddled through.

Plot: The book is 459 pages long, and it took about 200 pages for the plot to get even remotely interesting. We know the main character, Jason, is struggling with a faltering marriage, but we don’t meet his wife until midway through the book. We know Jason is connected to a man named Flip, but again, it takes the reader a good portion of the novel to figure out how -- and why their current relationship is so frayed. The plot simply moved too slowly to keep me interested and had a lot of tangents that I could have done without.

As a final note, this is a Christian novel, but that doesn’t really come through until midway through and even then it felt like yet another secondary storyline.

Characters: Jason Dunn is a banker with millions of dollars under his control. Flip is a convict out on parole. Diane is Flip’s love interest. Brenda is Jason’s fling as his marriage crumbles. These characters are all intertwined, but because of the slow-moving plot, it took me longer than it should to figure out how and why I should care. There were also a slew of secondary characters, many of whom I felt could be easily cut from the story. For example, I enjoyed Flip’s parole officer, but then the author introduced a second cop and I never connected with him and my enjoyment of the first officer lessened.

Structure: The structure was fine, with chapters of a decent length. My eBook version was poorly formatted for my Nook, leaving some awkward page breaks, and I did notice a few more typos than normal. Though this is more the publisher’s job than the author’s, it does reflect on a reader’s overall impression of the book.

Regarding the writing structure, there were many sections discussing the banking industry. Frankly, most of these left me pretty clueless and just added to my displeasure in reading. I will admit I’m not a math/banking whiz, but there are a lot of things that fall outside my expertise. Yet, I can still read a book about and be both educated and not overwhelmed. In this book, the descriptions of Jason’s work often left me having to re-read sections and eventually give up.

Overall, I felt that the author could have simplified some of the writing and removed some of the extraneous characters and plot lines to make the book a more enjoyable read. I will say that once I got past the first two thirds of the book, the pace picked up. I began to care more about the characters and the plot moved. But it shouldn’t have taken me that long. 2 stars.
While I received a complimentary electronic version of this book, I was not compensated for this review and it is my own thoughts and opinions.

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