A Lifetime to Die by P.S. Meronek
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Let's start with the cover shall we? Do you see that shadowy profile of a clearly female character who is standing rather defiantly in front of a clock? Yea, she doesn't exist. And the title of the book is really lame. So from the front there isn't much appeal here.
The book itself starts off with an engaging story of a boy in Czechoslovakia who lives with his mother and has been wronged by his uncle. Throw in some Russians and it is a pretty good story if a bit old school. You'll also be able to guess at the type of book this will be while reading these first few chapters. Time is a rather relaxed concept, jumping from present to past rather loosely. You'll also see that this is the type of book where major plot points will be glossed over to allow a "reveal" moment later. Gimmicky, and rather transparent to the frequent reader, but whatever. The story then has an American dream segment, which is when I start to dislike the main character. He has an awfully elitist tone for a newly made man. Then there is a segment which revisits the past and a general typing up loose ends.
The further I progressed in the book the less I liked it. Not usually the way one wants a book to go frankly. By the end details start to unravel, plotlines that were thin to begin with become completely unbelievable, and the editing as far as quote marks and paragraph breaks usage also starts to suffer. After finishing the story all I was thinking was you have to be kidding me!
Let's talk characters a bit.
Aristotle "Telly" Mercury - The guy whose picture should have been on the cover of the book. He becomes less believable as the book goes on. By the end you can't help but feel like he should have developed a bit more. Instead you are left listening to the same "nice guy" routine. The prose alludes to his outlook changing - but you don't witness any of it in the book first hand. He's a guy who can't be troubled to get a drivers license but has the mettle to be a self made bajillionaire. Please.
Every other character starts off strong and then becomes a footnote. Angelina Torres - Enters the story as an obvious romantic interest. Has a bit of a spark to her, definitely likable. Unfortunately after the early part of their relationship she is relegated to the occasional side thought. Mrs. Schroeder - A spitfire of an old gal. After proving useful to Telly though again is discarded. The romances involve women of ever decreasing ages, with ever aging men, their personalities described less and less. Meanwhile even at almost 50 Telly has such a hot body his 25 year old daughter has to mention it. Gross.
In the end I think the story concept had merit, it just needed to be thought out a bit more in the second half.
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