Home > fiction, novel > The Milieu Principle: Malcolm Franks

The Milieu Principle: Malcolm Franks

August 10, 2011

Mike Daniels cared little for close human relations. He cared even less about the environment.
Why should he? His world already provided him with all the things that mattered in life. Things were about to change.

A mysterious package containing a memory stick arrives, with a request to meet an old school friend in an isolated spot. Mike is unaware what the memory stick holds. He soon discovers, however, that the owners want it back, at any price. Now his very existence is at risk and he must run.
Using a false identity, Matt Durham, he finds sanctuary in Canada. In this new life he learns about friendship, comes to appreciate the environment all around. He even believes he finds love. So Matt Durham chooses to close his mind to what brought him to this safe haven.

But, when he is found, Matt Durham is faced with a stark choice. Does he run again, or fight back against his enemies? In truth, he has only one option. Matt realises his only salvation lies in taking on the overwhelming odds ranged against him. To do this he must cross the globe undetected, suffering loss and betrayal along the way. He would also have to learn how to kill.

He had to, because he wanted to live. And the lives of billions of other people depended upon his survival.

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My reading of The Milieu Principle got off to a very poor start when I looked at the back cover copy, which is rendered almost illegible by being printed in dark greenish-grey on a black background. My two sons are both colourblind and they couldn’t even see any text on that back cover.  I suspect that this book is aimed primarily at a male readership; and far more males are colourblind than females. It seems to me to be foolish for the writer to risk alienating so much of his target market because of a simple design choice.

The book has a reasonably interesting premise; the punctuation is mostly okay, there’s not much wrong with the grammar and the plot seems clear enough. And perhaps that’s the problem: this book is okay, but it isn’t spectacular.

The story is let down by wooden dialogue, exposition-by-dialogue, and an assumption that the reader needs to be told all sorts of unimportant details to help the story unfold. For example, I’m not sure why the writer chose to mention that the main character’s freezer is steel-coloured and upright: knowing this adds nothing to the story or to the characterisation of anyone involved. This fondness for unnecessary detail leads to several convoluted and confusing paragraphs; and makes a slow and laborious reading.

Not that this text is beyond hope: it has potential, but that potential is hidden behind a lot of very basic mistakes. If the writer were to revise this book very thoroughly and question the purpose of every sentence, he could make it much more readable. If he were to cut all of that redundant detail, make sure that everything he’d written meant what he thought it meant, and get rid of much of the exposition, then this book would be hugely improved. As it is, it’s a tired read, full of errors and confusion, with little to recommend it. I read just eight of its five hundred and ten printed pages.

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  1. August 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    The description makes it sound like a politically driven morality tale. I have strong views about the environment, but my views are very non-traditional. I would have put the book down after reading the first sentence or two.

  2. Anonymous
    September 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Eight pages read smacks of laziness. To deride a complete work on eight pages smacks of arrogance. You might benefit from some humility. PS – From a cohort of 250 readers none were either colour blind or so frivolous.

  3. Jane Smith
    September 29, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Isn’t it interesting how people who post the rude and critical comments here usually do so anonymously?

    Anon, I don’t hide how I work, nor do I force anyone to submit their work to me. And are you telling me that when you choose which books you’re going to buy you read more than eight pages? If not, then you’re being just a bit pot-and-kettle.

    Your comment about the colourblindness suggests to me that you’re closely involved with the author. You know about the Authors’ Big Mistake, don’t you?

  4. Anonymous
    October 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    No, Yes, Yes. Enough said.

  1. August 15, 2011 at 2:44 am
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