Monday, November 17, 2008

Chasing Diana by Jack & Robin Firestone

Chasing Diana by Jack & Robin Firestone
Copyright 2008
Lightning Source Fiction/Screenplay
154 pages

6-word review: Cliched characters, goofy plot, no answers

I've rewritten this first paragraph for clarity. Somehow, I managed to not mention that the Firestones were the only Americans present at Diana's fatal crash site.

I admired Princess Diana, as most folks did, and hoped that I'd learn a bit more about the circumstances of her death by reading this fictional account in the form of a screenplay, written by two Americans who were driven through the Alma Tunnel moments after the crash that killed Diana. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like the book said much of anything besides, perhaps, that the authors were pretty clueless as to what they'd witnessed and didn't have enough material to write a real book. After visiting their website, I'm not so certain about that. It does seem like they have plenty to say and there's a lot of information to be mined.

Because it's written as a screenplay, some people might find the format a little awkward to read. I've read screenplays in the past -- sometimes to compare a screenplay with a novel -- so the form didn't bother me. However, I thought the characters were a little cliched (sorry, don't know how to add an accent) and thinly veiled. The Firestone family becomes the Goodrich family, all of whom have given names that begin with the same first letter as their real-life names. James drinks heavily and pops pills; his brother snorts cocaine and wife Rhonda whines. Their son Ben is just kind of there.

From the authors' website, I learned that they made the Goodrich family deliberately dysfunctional and threw in people with guns to make the story more exciting. But, it didn't work for me. The bad guys were ever-present but inept. The Goodrich family was unlikable. Truly, I just wanted to know what the authors saw and didn't feel like I could honestly tell anyone the answer, after closing the book. One thing I think they did get across nicely was the pressure of being thrust into the spotlight. And, yet, even that was weakened by James' greedy desire for attention. This is one I struggled to finish. The interviews posted at their website are actually far more revealing; it would have been nice if they'd simply written an account of what they saw, what they believed to have occurred and why. Definitely not a Bookfool favorite. If you have reviewed this book, let me know and I'll add a link. I keep forgetting to do that.

Aha! Got one:

2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Up next: A review of The Adventures of Songha, the Amazing Savannah Cat by Linda Caterine

I've been tagged thrice, in the past week, and I'm trying to figure out how to fit those posts in. To the taggers, I thank you and I beg your patience.

I don't do Monday Mailbox posts because I'm not particularly organized (hahaha -- ask my husband if I'm being too kind to myself) but I got a book that has me absolutely drooling, this weekend. Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journals and Letters of the Henry Family is a book I received to review for Estella's Revenge. It is absolutely driving me nuts having that book stare at me. Oh, oh, oh it looks fabulous! I'd never thought of journals in this way, but one of the reviewers in the promotional material that came along with the book called this book an excellent work of "social history". I've never heard that term, but I like it.

Must dash off to fetch the kiddo, again. He's nearly 17, but doesn't particularly like driving to school in the morning if he's tired. Not a problem. It's an excuse to get out. Later, later!

20 comments:

  1. I reviewed it on my blog and didn't like it either. The author commented on my review and took offense at it, but I didn't like it for many of the same reasons you didn't. I agree, the main characters weren't likable at all. I didn't care about them. I was one who found the screenplay format lacking too. I wish they'd simply written their story and what they saw and went though, without all the fiction and sensationalized drama.

    You can link to my review, but it's not positive!

    http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com/2008/10/chasing-diana.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holly,

    Yikes, I hope they don't take offense. I just read your review and the comment and linked up. Yes, I do believe we're in agreement. It would have been so much nicer to just read a personal account of their experience, but the reviews are definitely heavily in their favor.

    Thanks for the link and the thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've nominated you for an award over at A Garden Carried in the Pocket.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The authors were on my Talk Radio station the other day and they were quite interesting. I probably won't be reading the book......I like my royalty dead for a few centuries, not a decade or so. That and it was just a tragedy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jenclair,

    Why, thank you. I'll bop over there in a bit. :)

    Carrie,

    I thought the interviews at their website were extremely interesting and it just reinforced to me that the real story would have made a fine and dandy book, but that's just my opinion.

    Hahaha. You and your royalty. It was definitely a tragedy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Why did they write it in the form of a screenplay? I've worked in Hollywood reading scripts, and I can't imagine why anyone would put something in screenplay form unless they were going to make a movie out of it. Do they explain?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gentle Reader,

    I'm not sure I fully understand that, but there was a remark about the fact that they chose to fictionalize themselves for their own protection. Since they've given tons of interviews, I'm inclined to believe they're hoping for a movie deal. But, that's me wild-guessing. I don't claim to comprehend why they feel like a screenplay with fictional characters protects them from anything, since they've been on TV so much.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "...it's written as a screenplay..."

    Ohhhh...that could be a problem for some...me for one.

    ReplyDelete
  9. J.Kaye,

    Yeah, I can see that. Screenplays don't bother me because I've read plenty of them, but they're not for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've seen one or two reviews of this. I think the author's were witnesses of the crash if I'm not mistaken. Sorry you didn't enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. When I was in high school I loved to drive but once I got home from college and that long drive it took me to get home I wanted my mom to drive me every where.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ladytink,

    Yes, they were in a taxi and apparently their driver stopped right next to the crash site in the tunnel. I neglected to mention that and have updated. Thanks for noting my mistake! The reviews are overwhelmingly positive at Amazon, but I'm used to going against the flow. I'm one of few bloggers who didn't like The Thirteenth Tale.

    Nikki,

    That's so funny! I think kiddo is just so tired in the morning (not a morning person, like his mother) that he often doesn't want to bother, but in the afternoon he's all full of energy. I brought his camera -- uh, my old 35mm camera, I should say -- along to the school so we could drive around looking for things for him to photograph for an assignment and he started whining that I never let him drive anywhere. Ummm. Okay. So, I said, "Fine, take off." LOL He had a great time and came home happy. Weird.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for your great review, Nancy! This really doesn't sound like my kind of book and even if you'd given it a glowing review, I probably would pass on it.

    I've been occasionally participating in the Monday Mailbox meme, but usually on Fridays. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wendy,

    I've skipped all the other Princess Diana books, actually. I thought it was pretty clear that the accident was caused by a combination of papparazzi stalking and drunken driving, but I'd hoped to learn a little more.

    "Mailbox Friday" just doesn't have quite the same ring, LOL, but it makes more sense to me to write about what you've received at the end of the week -- Friday or Saturday -- instead of after the weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the link. I often go against the flow in what I like and don't like.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Holly,

    You're welcome! As to going against the flow . . . I think that's a good thing. We're not all meant to love the same books, music, foods, etc. That would just be boring.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have this book to review as well. I read Holly's review a while ago and thought uh oh. Now your nonfavorable review. I'm sure I'm not going to like book now. The screenplay writing instancely turned me off but I still want to try and plug through it because of the Diana factor.

    P.S. I didn't like The Thirteenth Tale either.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Bree,

    The good news is that screenplays are quick reads. While I felt like I had to drag myself through this one, it would have taken much longer in book form (although, still, I think it would have been great as a memoir -- the real story, that is).

    Hey, cool! It's always nice to find someone else who didn't like The Thirteenth Tale. I found it exhausting, but we're seriously in the minority on that one! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who didn't like it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yeah, I was kind of relieved when I saw your review. :)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!