Review: Threshold by Jordan L. Hawk .. where has the magic gone?

Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin, #2)Threshold by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Clearly I’m an extremely odd man out on this one. I haven’t read any reviews but just skimming the good reads page I can see a plethora of 4 and 5 stars so clearly almost everyone loved this book. Even those readers I tend to agree with absolutely loved this book so I’m left wondering what the hell I missed. I’m actually very serious about this – not trying to create discord but could someone please tell me what exactly I’m missing that everyone else loved? I want to like this! I think the author is a very good writer but somehow the plot just seemed ridiculous to me and the characters took a turn from adorable and charming to I hope the crab people kill them. I’m very sad about this and even more so considering I quite liked the first book in the series. Maybe it was the narrator.

Anyway the plot truly reads like a bad syfy movie reminiscent of sharktopus or gatoroid, except without the implied humor that it knows its bad. Whyborne, Griffin, and Christine head to Threshold to investigate mysterious, possible supernatural, happenings in the mine there. Whyborne’s father owns a controlling share in the mine town so he hires Griffin to look into the potential trouble there and of course Whyborne and Christine tag along. While there the trio encounter Griffin’s ex-lover from the Pinkertons and numerous strange, unexplained occurrences.

Ok to start with the good, since there definitely are several good things about the story. First is that the writing is very good. The descriptive quality and sense of subtle humor threading the entire story is very engaging. All the characters feel well developed and purposeful without a lot of extraneous unimportant cast members. I quite like Whyborne for most of the book. He’s funny, intelligent, and maybe naïve but more so because he is so honest and has the same expectations of others. The scene where he is questioning the prostitutes is truly inspired and I actually listened to it twice because I enjoyed it so much. It shows the perfect mix of his sense of propriety, social unease, and inquisitive mind. Christine once again is easily one of the best female characters in the m/m genre. She is strong, intelligent, caring, and a very good friend without being overbearing, controlling, or manipulative. This easily shows how women can be friends with a gay man without being a horrible bitch and trying to control and direct their lives.

That said I struggled so much with the actual plot of the story. Some of the characters did incredibly ridiculous and stupid things, such as Whyborne’s following the note that had an invisible neon sign over it shouting danger! Or Griffin’s rather cruel comment in response to what I thought was natural and understandable jealousy. Then of course Whyborne saves the day in a very predictable and kind of silly finale. And this is the crux of what I disliked about the book. The entire plot felt like a bad horror movie that lacked the tongue in cheek knowing it’s that bad. Here you have crab like aliens, called yayhoos, performing vivisection experiments on people and replacing their brains. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t scary, it wasn’t interesting…it was just bad. Whyborne comes along at the end like the damsel in distress that gets away way too easily and unbelievably.

It’s not that I expect a supernatural story to be realistic. I don’t. But I do expect it to make sense within the context of the story. Here Whyborne, who is very quiet, reserved and non-athletic, is able to accomplish amazing feats of running, ability, and leadership without eating for two days or showing any particular aptitude in those areas. In my opinion his character and Griffin’s suddenly change towards the end of the book to suit the needed action before leading to a resolution. I didn’t believe it and more so I simply could not appreciate the ludicrousness of the plot in general. I can and do appreciate a great shartopus movie for the absurdity of it but mostly because such things know they’re ridiculous and pepper that knowledge in as humor. Here this story felt as though it had no idea the crab, winged crustaceans that replaced people’s brains were not scary. I don’t know. Maybe other people found them to be terrifying. Perhaps I read too much science fiction.

Anyway the other issue I had with the story was the narrator. I listened to the audiobook version and I simply did not care for this narrator at all. He has a very bland and somnolent voice. I could hear the narrator attempt to use inflection for the various characters but they all sounded exactly the same to me. In fact I rarely could tell who said what unless the dialogue had tags attached to it. I struggled listening to it with such an unexciting narrator and only the excellence of the writing itself, the sentence structure, description, and engaging dialogue kept me going. So no doubt this influenced my enjoyment of the story but I think the silly plot would have done me in even reading the text version.

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