Book review: Dragging out the story takes away from novel

Small Treasons by Mark Powell


Published: January 16/18. Gallery Books.

Tess and John Maynard appear to be an average American couple who live in Georgia. Though their neighbours suspect the two are going through a rough patch, it goes much deeper than that. Young mother of three, Tess, has developed an odd obsession – she’s become consumed with watching online videos of ISIS and the war of terror. She’s no sympathizer of the terrorist group, but she can’t stop watching. It agitates her that while all this is happening, people can easily go on with their daily lives. To her, the world has truly gone mad.

Her husband, John, whose employed at the local college, tries to move on with his new life and family, but he cannot help but be bothered by his past. And sure enough, it doesn’t help when James Stone, someone from John’s past life he hadn’t intended on seeing ever again, suddenly shows up. John use to work for the CIA and his job was to interrogate and investigate suspected terrorists.

James “Jimmy” Stone is a bitter man, set in his beliefs – one being that “war belongs on TV.” What brings him back into John’s life is the fact that John was working at the college with Professor Hadawi, a personal of interest. He was connected to twenty-two-year-old Reed Sharma, another person of interest whom Jimmy was supposed to be watching but lost track of. What Jimmy needs from John is access to Professor Hadawi’s computer and hard drive.

The topic of this novel is scary because it’s reality, but Powell’s execution takes readers away from, what I personally think, would’ve been a tense and outgoing novel surrounding everyday people living in an on growing fear of terrorism.

Almost immediately I had difficulties with Powell’s style of writing. Something about it just seemed off and I had to go back and reread sentences over and over again. I think it was because Powell was trying too hard to make his words flow like poetry – but instead it got the exact opposite effect. Due to this, the book dragged on in a lot of places and was filled with ongoing blabbering and filler, taking away from what the novel was supposed to be about.

Kirsten Lowe studies at Athabasca University.

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