Jennifer MacDonald reviews "The Jagged Glass Ballet" by Brendan Detzner
The Jagged Glass Ballet by Brendan Detzner is a fantasy novella telling the tale of a fourteen year old boy that's taken from his home and placed in a violent and confusing world with no idea of who he is or where he's come from. The boy awakens in a small room and within moments finds himself in the middle of a chase between gun wielding "black suits" and some unknown who tells him to lay down and close his eyes and he won't get hurt. The boy does what he's told as the chase continues through his room and out a ventilation shaft that later proves to be an area of much activity.Sometime later the boy opens his eyes to find a group of kids, all around the same age as he is, standing in the room and telling him to get up and pick a name for himself (since he doesn't remember his real name). He comes up with Dragon Plastic after seeing the words written on some books that line a bookcase in the room. The story moves on explaining the details of a surreal world, a place where there are many contradictions and secrets that the other kids never bother to question. He is shown how to please a mysterious Oracle, make creative pieces of art in exchange for food and basically maintain the status quo. He finds that he is compelled to get answers as he meets an outcast named Toothpick, a boy that is markedly different than the other kids in his looks and attitude. Toothpick encourages Dragon to unravel the mystery by giving him pills and powders that alter his mind and body and by informing him that he must help to save Oracle and set her free. The Jagged Glass Ballet reads like the first draft of a novel. While there is the potential for a good story here, the character descriptions are dry and lifeless, ideas are not laid out well enough to make the events believable and the dialogue is lacking the emotional qualities that a real person would go through in such fantastic situations. There are elements of a "Matrix"-like story line, Dragon being the special one that will rescue the Oracle and free the inhabitants of a false world where the villains are bad businessmen that seek only to suck the life out of young, creative people so that they may profit in the real world. There is no reason given as to why Dragon was chosen to be there. I found myself hoping for clarity halfway through the reading, looking for something that would shed light on where the events were going and encourage me to find some importance in the conflicts that the characters were facing. Unfortunately, it didn't come together as a complete story. The biggest obstacle was in being able to believe what was happening. There were many disjointed gun-firing episodes that left Dragon riddled with bullet holes and leaking out pools of blood where ever he went yet he was still able to play with the other kids when required to and help Toothpick save the all- powerful-yet-not-powerful-enough Oracle from the voice of the bad businessman. It's possible the author tried to do to much with this story not paying enough attention to the details of one or two key issues that would give the story focus and draw the reader into the drama. Instead, we get many concepts that aren't clearly mapped out and in some cases lead us to dead ends in terms of furthering the plot or providing substance to the characters. Some concepts are cliché, as in the case of the villain and the reader is left disappointed that all the action didn't lead up to something more meaningful. As it is now, TJGB gives the reader a sense of unfinished business with characters we didn't really get to know, a there's-got-to-be-more-than-this feeling. It is of my humble opinion that The Jagged Glass Ballet would do well to receiving more attention from the author so that the reader could invest themselves in the action without feeling disappointed by the outcome.
Read Excerpts from "The Jagged Glass Ballet"
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