It’s time for Canada Reads once again! I have all five books and have read three and a half of them, so it’s time to start putting down some thoughts. First up: The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis.
I’m going to be quite brief with this one. It has been hyped up as being funny and clever, and an insightful look at Canadian politics that will, featuring a political outsider, appeal to even those who despise politics. I think it was on that basis that Avi Velshi championed it during the Canada Reads launch.
Quite simply, I found it not funny and shallow. There were jokes there, I recognized when they happened, but they were typically obvious, cliche, or based on some tired stereotype. I don’t think I ever laughed once.
I also found the characters quite flat. The main character didn’t have much in the way of characterization, and I had a strong sense that Fallis knew what sort of character he was writing, but neglected to show that to the reader. I can’t help but feel that he was actually just writing himself and forgot that the reader won’t see the character the same way he does. It made for a uninspired narration.
Early in chapter five, the narrator recounts the story-so-far and says “It sounded like a sitcom that was cancelled after three episodes because it was just too far-fetched.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s wrong with a good fraction of this novel. The whole scandal that sends the lead political outsider into office, for example, had me rolling my eyes and actually vaguely insulted. Was I supposed to find that whole episode funny? Who is this book supposed to be written for?
Finally, it didn’t help that I was constantly bothered by references to “the Leader”. Always being capitalized and never named, I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Leader of the Movementarians more than any political party.
Of course it is clear by this point that I do not see The Best Laid Plans as much of a contender. I will be writing up comments on the other four books in the next couple months, but to give a brief preview, this is the bottom of the 2.5 books I’ve read so far.