Saturday, April 7, 2012

Black Oil, Red Blood by Diane Castle

Black Oil, Red Blood
By Diane Castle
The thing about cancer is it’s hard to prove somebody gave it to you on purpose—but Chloe Taylor can prove it. In fact, she proves it for a living. She sues oil refineries that would rather save a buck than comply with safety regulations designed to do important things like, you know, keep people alive. 
Rating: 2 of 5 "It Was Okay"

I'm sorry to say that I struggled to get through this book. I'm going to give it two stars for "it was okay" because really that's what I'd have to say about it. It was okay.

The characters were overwhelmingly cardboard (with the exception of Nash, who actually seemed to have some complexity) and the plot was so-so. I feel like the story was an excuse for the author to lecture me about Big Oil. Characters randomly broke out into long-winded speeches and rattled off statistics as if they were reading it right off of wikipedia. The dialogue throughout these long stretches of texture-less expository chunks was brittle and constructed at best.

The action scenes were pretty okay, until the point that they inevitably reached a level of absurdity even I was taken out of the book. I'm all for camp, really, but if the main character noticed Nash's "chiseled torso" one more time at the very wrong time I was going to flip my desk. That, and the results of said action scenes were unsatisfactory. Chloe spent too much time being tossed from one action wave to the next without discovering any information on her own. She might as well not have been the main character of this book.

At any rate, there were several redeeming qualities that kept me going throughout. Miles, Chloe's gay paralegal, was entertaining comedic relief (even though the obviousness of his role in the story did irritate me by the time I hit the half-way point.) And normally I don't like the use of pets in books but I found myself oddly pleased by Lucy's simple pleasure in car rides and usefulness as a midnight look-out.

My roommate read this book at the same time I did, and she found much more enjoyment in it than I did. However, she didn't read the whole book, just popped in and out and read over my shoulder for the scenes that made me laugh. I'm not sure what that says for the book beyond saying it has potential that wasn't properly exploited.

Then again, maybe this isn't my kind of story? Unsure. I'll go compare notes with other readers and see if I'm just the odd-man out on this one.

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