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Sewerelf, by Dan Weiss Book Review | SFReader.com
Sewerelf, by Dan Weiss Genre: YA Fantasy Publisher: Black Plankton Press Published: 2000 Review Posted: 4/23/2005 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 5 out of 10
Sewerelf, by Dan Weiss
Book Review by Paul Goat Allen
Have you read this book?
Disappointing. Confusing. Sloppy. At first glance, Sewerelf by Dan Weiss appears to be a young adult fantasy. With captivating cover art, I was looking forward to reading about the misadventures of a young female sewer-inhabiting elf in what I thought would be a fast-paced, fun-filled novel with adolescent themes. What I found instead was a convoluted story about a human girl who doesn't want to grow up, an unfulfilled man trying to keep his failed marriage -- and family -- together, and a parasitic elf who lives on the periphery of human society existing by consuming the life-essence of those ill-fated enough to cross her path. I had to literally force myself to continue reading at several points, in hopes that the dull and uninspired plot lines would eventually come together to create some semblance of a compelling read. Sadly, it never happened...
There were some truly interesting elements to this story -- the future world ruled by ruthless corporations instead of nations, the sentient trees, the shape-shifting draff, the enigmatic elves -- but in the end, like Connie, the five-year old girl filled with fear and doubt who doesn't want to grow up, this novel suffered a fatal case of uncertainty. It reads like a kids book, has some (largely unexplored) young adult themes, has a fantastic YA cover but then drops the F-word for no apparent reason. I also wanted more character development; I enjoyed the complexity of Asher Archer, Connie's father, but I was never emotionally invested in any other of the characters. The character of the Sewerelf, in particular, should've been intriguing and enigmatic but she came across as two-dimensional, made out of cardboard.
Sewerelf almost seemed unfinished, as if the author wasn't quite done filling in the holes when he was forced to submit the manuscript to the publisher. There were literally hundreds of grammatical errors throughout the text as well as gaping holes in the tapestry of the story that, if filled, would've done wonders for the fluidity of the story -- what happened to the Sewerelf's family and people? What about her childhood? Her culture? Her daily life? How did they live? Are there any other elves left? Living in sewers in other cities? There was a goldmine of interesting plot lines that could've been explored. Throughout the entire book, right up until the last page, I wanted to read more about the elves...
It may sound like I'm being hard on this book -- and I am -- but it's only that I recognize the almost limitless potential of what it could've been. Young adult fantasy is a booming category right now and if Sewerelf had been written strictly as a YA read and focused on its adolescent themes, this book -- properly edited and marketed -- could've been the beginning of a bestselling saga comparable to Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small (Page, Squire, et. al.) saga.
Paul Goat Allen is the editor of Barnes & Noble's Explorations science fiction/fantasy book review and is the author of Burning Sticks, Old Winding Way and Warlock Dreams.
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