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Why do the worst books always sound good?

Please fasten your seatbelt, because I’m in no mood for niceties.

I find few things more vexing than a bad read. I think it’s the resulting feeling of having completely wasted one’s time. And this book was, indubitably, a waste of my time, as well as a stain on its publisher’s name.

Painter of Silence is dull. Unrelentingly boring. Less exciting than the furnishings in a prison cell. In fact, there are prison cells I would rather spend the night in than read this book again.

It’s a shame, because the actual writing is not that bad. Harding has the ability to string together a sentence, and to make words read prettily, but having that and only that is like trying to eke out ten portions of soup between fifty people. The flavour stretches thin.

Continuing my indignant condemnation of this novel, the characterisation is appalling. I have only really met one deaf person in my life. He was a classmate who I didn’t know well, and with whom I shared only a handful of conversations over the two years of sixth form. From this brief encounter I know enough about deaf people to say that Augustin is a poor portrayal of a person with aural impairment.

He is a vegetable, and a stupid vegetable at that.

Augustin is born deaf, and never learns to speak, but this book has him reduced to the singular crude medium of communication through drawing. He is not taught to read, to sign, or even to communicate through his expression. It is hugely unrealistic, and a vast injustice to the deaf community’s capacity for being an integrated and valuable part of society.

My opinion is that the author just hasn’t done the research. The result is embarrassingly naïve.

And it gets worse. There is another significant character, Safta, and she is as flat as a sheet of tissue paper that has been run over by a tank. Easily the most boring character I have ever read. Utterly lacking in personality, zest, and individuality. She exists in the novel, it seems, to give the author opportunity to sigh over Augustin, portraying him as a worthless emotional burden.

And the mystic communication between them? Please excuse me whilst I choke. It’s something I’d expect to find in a bad fan-fiction, and so poorly written that the editor ought to be sued for laziness.

To conclude, this is a shocking book with no shock factor to save it. I shall wash my hands, and move on to better things.

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Addams Family Values (1993)
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