Truthseeker (part 2)
I also understand the human psyche or spirit is sometimes baffling in its complexity. I have both read about, and experienced situations, where what seems like a simple and beneficial command to oneself (such as “stop being afraid of riding in elevators” or “lose 30lbs.”) can be unwittingly short-circuited by other equally strong internal desires working at cross purposes to the internal command (such as “I am afraid of becoming fat, so I should always take the stairs instead of the elevator” or “I need comforting; food makes me feel comforted”). As a personal example, I chose at one point in my life to shed 70 health-damaging pounds, and did so. However, about a year or two later, while going through an extremely stressful period, I gained 30 of those pounds back, and have had trouble getting rid of them since. I don’t beat myself up about it, though. I understand why they’re still there: I have not chosen to doggedly, willfully rid myself of them.
It would be easy for me to visualize a situation where exerting my will so would be critical to me, and in that situation I suspect I would once more easily shed the unwanted weight. That is, in fact, the issue I have about the heroine in Truthseeker: in the end, the only thing standing between her and success is her will — and she knows it. Further, if she does not exert her will through her magic, people she cares about will die; she may die herself as well. Under those circumstances I cannot see how anyone would not be wonderfully focused. At that point for me there is no longer any story challenge — there is only exasperated perplexity as to why the heroine is wasting time.
I’ve been considering this book further, and talking with a good friend about my assumptions regarding willpower, and I think I’m being a bit personally ethnocentric here. Just because I cannot imagine how incipient death would fail to sharply focus someone’s will does not mean it is impossible. Further, as my friend pointed out, I’ve had quite a bit of training through my life in working under pressure: first aid training, lifeguard training, basic disaster triage, veterinary surgery technician training, etc. It makes sense that I’d know how to quickly and incisively focus my will.
We also recalled situations and people we knew who tended to fold under any sort of pressure at all — from people who are terrified of any kind of conflict and will do almost anything in order to avoid it, to those who collapse into tears and whimpering if you don’t immediately agree with them, through to folks who literally try to go fetal when in emergency situations. Considering such people made me realize that, were their lives in abrupt danger and they knew all they had to do to survive was to confidently and emphatically shout, “NO! I WILL NOT DIE!” …there would likely be many of them who could not do it, and would indeed die.
So, in a very roundabout way, this leads me back to the book Truthseeker. Parts of it are quite interesting, and the author is a good and imaginative writer. However, with this story’s protagonist she’s writing to an audience to which I do not completely belong, and so the book does not speak strongly to me, and I cannot deeply empathize with the heroine. If my comments above have you nodding your head in agreement re focusing your will, then I cannot recommend the book to you. If, however, my thoughts on willpower mean you now think I’m an alien or something, then I urge you to try the story — you might greatly enjoy it. ;)
For myself, I’d like to see the author write more books — just not on this heroine.