Deeply Disappointing

As I opened the package and pulled out the review copy of Wanda E. Brunstetter’s latest “book”, I knew I was due to be disappointed. Goodbye to Yesterday was only 121 pages long. In a small oval on the front cover were the words “The Discovery Part 1 of 6.”

I had been hearing rumors that publishers were experimenting with serials. (Long ago, prior to the development of paperback books, newspapers and magazines routinely published books as serials in their publications.) I presumed that the slim volume I held was evidence that the rumors were true.

At this point, anyone who is a faithful fan of Wanda Brunstetter can stop reading. If you will wait for six “parts” to be published and will pay US$6.99 for each “part,” then the rest of this review is a waste of your time. However, for the rest of you, here are my thoughts on “part 1″—Goodbye to Yesterday:

An episode of a serial has a different flow than a book. Instead of a beginning, middle and end, an episode introduces some characters, sets up a situation, ratchets up the suspense and stops when something bad is happening. (The outcome of the “something bad” is left unfinished until the beginning of the next episode.) Everything I just described is all you get in Goodbye to Yesterday.

In order for a serial to work, the reader must care about the characters. She has to wait until the next episode to find out what happened, so unless she cares a lot, the serial fails. In my opinion, the characters in Goodbye to Yesterday were so bland that I cannot tell you anything about them less than 24 hours after reading the “book.”

So that’s it: no plot, lackluster characters, and a few pages of imitation suspense building. I think the publishers should rethink this strategy. It didn’t work for me with Goodbye to Yesterday.