_The Thief_, with spoilers galore--extra long for your enjoyment

Gross Family argross at bigpond.net.au
Sun Mar 10 07:10:22 EST 2002

Melissa wrote:

> I didn't say I felt cheated.  I didn't.  I felt that Turner used
> in a way that deliberately led the reader to the wrong conclusions, for
> sake of a surprise ending rather than as the natural requirement of the
> story.  That's different from feeling personally cheated.  That's one
> (unpublished, unskilled) writer saying "You really were close to the line
> that one."  Turner took a real chance and succeeded, counting success by
> sales and awards.  If she weren't as good as she is, it wouldn't have
> worked.


<<I didn't say it spoiled the book.  I said the author had to
cheat--manipulate her writing--in order to accomplish her goal.  That's not
the same thing at all.  And DWJ is the Queen Bee of misdirection, but not
one of her books depends on hiding things from the reader that should, by
the rules she set down, have been known to the reader.  What makes me call
this cheating is that the only times we don't get to see the things Gen
does--PHYSICALLY does, not his reactions to stuff or his ambiguous
references to his past--are, coincidentally, the things we would need to
figure out what's going on. [snip]>>

I think these paragraphs more or less sum up the way I see it also. I didn't
feel cheated; I loved the book. But, as another budding writer also, I was a
bit taken aback by the use of a technique that seemed to me to be just a bit
"iffy". But I'm not saying it doesn't work. It's a fine book. And I am
certainly not interested in making categorical statements or judgements
about "cheating" in this book, or other books. This discussion has shown how
different readers can have enormously different reactions to the same thing,
and that's of great interest to me.


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