Bad Hair Day
by Nancy Darryl, contemporary (2006)
Treble Heart Books, $5.00, ISBN 1-932695-30-3
I'm not the most qualified person to say anything about an author's writing style, given that there is a high chance that there will be oh, fifty or sixty spelling and grammatical errors by the time you get to the end of this piece of writing that you're looking at. But hey, you know, those who can't write, criticize. And while I am reading Bad Hair Day, I find myself being distracted by many aspects in the writing that feel unpolished. There are too many uses of long run-on sentences, for example, as well as many phrases that are awkward and seem to be used solely for the sake of being "colorful" or something. An example of the awkward phrasing is the description of the hero's eyes as having the color of "rainforest". That sounds pretty exotic, rainforest eyes, until I realize I have no idea what exactly does "rainforest eyes" mean. Green, like the canopy? Brown with splotches of green, black, and more like the tree trunks? The color of mossy dirt?
Now, now, don't look at me. I know I am too fond of run-on sentences myself but I don't charge people to read my ramblings.
Having said that, Bad Hair Day has a Veronica Mars-like heroine, only tougher, paired with a drifter as they try to figure out why someone would steal the drifter Cooper West's Harley and why these people mistake him for someone who has something that these people want. Assuming, of course, that Cooper is telling the truth. Since our heroine Hannah Hailstock meets him for the first time when she discovers him badly beaten up on the roadside and later when she finds someone trying to kill him while he's at the hospital, there is obviously more than meets the eye here.
Bad Hair Day is the kind of story that I could enjoy: the heroine really kicks ass. Hannah is tough, she doesn't let people bully her, and she can defend herself using martial arts. The thing is, though, author Nancy Darryl makes Hannah so tough that Hannah comes off like the Terminator. Nothing fazes her. I'm not kidding. Nothing remotely challenges her. She sees, she comes, and if she doesn't like you, hiii-ya! As a result, there is no suspense in this story because clearly Hannah cannot be stopped. It's just a matter of time when she charges straight at the bad guys like a freight train and crush them to pieces. Factor in some equally over-the-top aspects of Hannah's life like her James Bond-like father and I get a potentially very interesting character. Unfortunately, without much to make Hannah come off like a person rather than superwoman extraordinaire, what could have been a fun story ends up being something like Wonder Woman in a wrestling ring against a bunch of thirteen-year old girls - with the ending so obvious, there doesn't seem to any reason to actually bother.
Since this story is told in first person (from Hannah's point of view), not much is known of Cooper other than he's hot and he sometimes comes off like a male Princess Peach when he's with Hannah. After all, after all she has been through at the end of the story, all she can say is that she has had a terrible day. I can sympathize.
I like this story. I like the idea of a romance story where the heroine is a kickass babe like Geena Davis' character in The Long Kiss Goodnight minus the whole secret agent assassin stuff. But Ms Darryl misses the mark slightly by making Hannah too perfect as a kickass heroine to the point that nothing in this story even ruffles Hannah's composure. Because nothing can stop Hannah and Hannah always knows what to do in every situation, there is no suspense in this story. And when there is no suspense, the reader can easily tune out. The idea is there in Bad Hair Day and it's a cool one, but the execution could have been better.
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