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Book Review – Last Seen Leaving

This book is a great example of just how hard it is to master lyrical prose. It’s a talent, a gift, and a great burden if you have it but can’t figure out how to tame it.

Caleb Roehrig tried, and there was much to admire in his labored attempts, but there was also much to be desired as he orbited just above the realm of literary fiction, never quite breaking through that seal. 

His writing was very cumbersome. Metaphors went right over my head, paragraphs lost their mojo halfway through, and complex words pulled me out of the story time and again as if the author was trying to prove he was a writer, and in doing so, he only managed to convince me that he’d fought the editor tooth and nail for his darlings, forgetting about the story altogether. 

There were too many streams of consciousness. Too many drifting thoughts that dragged us into the clouds where the main character’s reality often existed, and I found it to be a little burdening and sort of exhausting. The story doesn’t pick up until about page 140, by which point you’re trying to remember why you’re still reading. 

But when I say it picks up, it picks up in a Big Way. And it’s just enough to keep you around until the end of the book. 

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Last Seen Leaving tells the story of Flynn as he learns and tried to uncover the mystery of his girlfriend’s disappearance, thus uncovering a few mysteries about himself. 

There was a lot of personal growth, a lot of coming of age, and I read a different review on GoodReads about this book where the reviewer wished she could split the book up into plot and character development, because the two were on opposite sides of the spectrum as far as strength and weakness goes. 

The personal growth was miraculous, easy to follow, easy to relate to, while the plot was hard to care about, easy to lose track of in Roehrig’s encumbered prose, and a little too obvious for my liking. 

I mean, this was a mystery. I didn’t feel like it was all that mysterious as you know who the killer is the minute he talks to Flynn for the first time. And then Flynn does a series of stupid ass shit while you shake your head like, Dude, you are going to get yourself killed. 

A lot of it just didn’t make sense to me. The cops were children, the parents were children, the children were totally oblivious, the author made everybody stupid so the mystery would be solved by our heroic main character, when in all actuality, if the police hadn’t been so derisive and incompetent, this book’s mystery would’ve been solved in 2.5 seconds. There were too many pieces of evidence nobody connected together, and I really don’t like when authors lean on characters’ stupidities in order to float a mystery along. 

Give us a mystery nobody can solve!

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There was too much description of unimportant characters and places, and it was so noticeable I had to mention it. I knew what random people looked like and their houses better than I understood what the main character looked like. Never jeopardize your story with unimportant side plots/descriptions, because they lead us into believing they’re important when they’re not. 

Too many adverbs. 

I know I’m being picky. 

But way too many. 

And odd dialogue tags that I didn’t see the point of especially in a teenaged mystery. 

Along with that, unnecessary overindulgent vocabulary. You’re catering to teenagers, they don’t know (typically) what quasi-insubordinate means. Much like our main character was so obviously not fifteen. When you write a fifteen-year-old, he doesn’t need to be stupid by any means, but he does need to be believable. 

Things like “tremulously averred”. What. What are you talking about. It’s so unnecessary. 

I liked our main characters and I liked Kaz. They did save the book for me. Heroes in more way than one. 

I liked the romance. And again, the character arc was there, I only wish the story and writing had reflected the beauty of Flynn’s transformation. 

But, I can see great promise in this author’s work, and I am looking forward to his next book. As a writer myself, I know how much this debut changed the way he puts pen to paper.

31/38

A+ cover though… am I right?

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