Book Review: The Tears of Dark Water by Corban Addison
Thomas Nelson 2015
This novel reads as if it were written specifically to go straight to a movie screen. And I mean that in the least flattering way.
A father and son set out for an 18-month cruise on their sailboat. The mother stays behind; the marriage is faltering and she isn’t sure whether she will join the two later at a midpoint docking. The sailboat is boarded by Somali pirates led by a man whose sister is held hostage by the men who operate the piracy ring. Tension is supposed to ensue.
Herein lies the problem. Novels depend on characterization and description to lead readers into the interior lives of others…to get them to care. Movies rely on visual and auditory elements, and must strip away the interior elements to present the different sensory input. Two very different formats, two very different types of requirements.
Addison gives us very little interior story. Instead, the 439 pages are pretty much choked with technical details. We discover the types of guns the pirates use and hear about the ships and helicopters that come to the rescue. We learn about the emergency signal that alerted everyone the sailboat had been taken. If only we had been given the same perspective on the characters who handled those weapons and ran those machines.
Oh, and the dialog. This is about the most boring dialog ever. It’s terrible because it reads like a movie script. It’s filled with things the characters do not need to say to each other (or shouldn’t if the narrative had revealed their personalities). It’s lacking the meaningful moments that really provide emotional resonance for a book.
Overall, this novel relies on the plotline to shove it through all 439 pages. There is an effort in the latter half to reveal the motivation of the lead pirate and generate compassion. And in fact the court case reflects this “triumph” of humanity. But it’s far too little, and the machinations the characters go through to unveil this final moment don’t do anything justice in terms of the novel.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I really wanted to enjoy the story on at least some level but did not.