Book Review

The Future Scrolls by Fern Michaels

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Title: The Future Scrolls
Author: Fern Michaels
Publication Info: Zebra 2003
ISBN: 0821775863
Genre: Contemporary Romance

This book, it is bad.

So bad, it will induce you to commit violence against your ancestors.

I am going to write this review based on the ten or so pages I read. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t even take it out of the library. I made no effort to choose this book. It was on the shelf in the bathroom of the rental house in St. John, and I figured I’d give it a shot.

I didn’t bother to meet the hero. I am not even sure about the origin and meaning of the scrolls referred to in the title. But the heroine? And the precociously annoying little girl?

It’s a new Smart Bitch category, I think: “Slap-Your-Grandma’s-Grandma Bad.”

I can tell you this much, and urge you to avoid this book:

Dani, the heroine, is an asshole. She gets dumped, starts off the story by moaning about her bad luck with men, and does nothing to make herself likeable, or even tolerable.

Somehow she ends up smoking a cigarette in front of the UN at night, and sees a little girl alone on a bench with a suitcase and no adult near her. Dani has the bright idea of charming the little girl into coming home with her, so she coaxes said youngster into a cab, and takes the kid back to her apartment. Yeah, that’s not creepy, or a massive display of questionable judgment.

Once in the apartment, she makes the kid some soup and eggs, and convinces the little girl to divulge her name. The girl, Maria, speaks in a clearly “English is my second language” manner, using phrases like, “how you say,” and never once using a contraction, so her sentences are stilted and formal. Maria is not from the US. And I have a lump the size of Texas from the subtle frying pan used to communicate that character’s foreign-ness.

If Candy lived in this book’s world, she’d mispronounce her “r’s” and refer to herself as “me” instead of “I” and she’d probably put pee-pee in your Coke at every opportunity so as not to miss a single cliche of being from another country.

But what got me really steamed was the little girl’s earnest request to repay Dani for her kindness after the girl revealed she was from Argentina, and no one arrived to meet her at the airport. Dani makes some comment about how she requires no payment and probably has a few “pesos” in the apartment to use in caring for this girl she ostensibly kidnapped. So not only is she a complete moron, but she’s a xenophobic buttmonkey as well? Oh, I cannot wait to immerse myself in her adventure and identify with her spunky attitude at every turn!

Not.

Right after the pesos comment, I shut the book and shoved it behind all the other books on the borrowing shelf in the bathroom of our rented house, so no one would be afflicted with the horror that was this novel.

Out of curiosity, I checked out the Amazon reviews as well. In a word, OUCH. The other readers, they also want to slap their grandma’s grandma.

From the Publisher’s Weekly review:

The bad guys could be Cagney co-stars; Maria is a modern-day Shirley Temple, dispensing advice on politics, smoking and love; and Alex is melodramatic in a Fernando Lamas sort of way. As for Dani, she’s the kind of bravely foolish heroine of yesteryear who insists on going off half-cocked and alone, yet she stops for a cigarette when she stumbles over a corpse in the enemy’s lair. Everything about the novel, including the paint-by-numbers cover, is so anachronistically cliched, it’s practically high camp.

And some reader comments:

“My nine year old could write a more coherent story!”

“I would have to agree with the earlier reviewer that said that her book is now in the trash, because that is where mine is headed. I usually resale my mediocre books to Half Price Books, but I wouldn’t want to torture another unsuspecting reader with this book.”

“Improbable plot, stilted dialogue, characters who act out erratically and stupidly…. Wish I could give it negative stars.”

There you have it: This book needs Negative Stars. Sounds like a black hole for books, where things you wish you’d never even read could be sucked into some endless void so powerful the memory of the pages you looked at would be stripped from your brain.

Ah, the astrophysics of romance. And in this case, emphasis on the “ass.” 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Melanie says:

    As much as I’m sorry you had to read any of this terrible-sounding book, at least I got a new favorite phrase out of the review: xenophobic buttmonkey.  Hee hee hee!

  2. 2
    Arethusa says:

    I am not at all surprised. I remember trying a Fern Michael’s book in my teens (something about a rock star…) and thinking it was heinous. Then I started to notice that her books always seemed to be stocked at stores and wondered how (or why) on earth she was still in print.

    Granted I only read one of her books but that was enough; it had left its mark.

  3. 3
    E.D'Trix says:

    Is it wrong that I now feel a pressing need to view this book? And perhaps do a dramatic character reading of it while at a party?

  4. 4
    Victoria Dahl says:

    Isn’t Fern Michaels a man? I could swear I heard that once, but I may be thinking of some other big name pseudo-romance writer.

  5. 5
    Lisa #2 says:

    Loved the Captive series from the 70/80’s.  Fond memories of Serena and Rhys fighting it out on the high seas as a she-pirate and Dutch East Indies dude in Java.  They divorced in Book 2 and the action moved to England.  They married other people (who were evil of course) before finally finding their HEA after much angst and sword fighting.  God, I miss the old days sometimes.

  6. 6
    Lisa #2 says:

    Oops!  Forgot the whole point of my comment.  I think Fern Michaels was a writing team back in the day.  After they broke up (have no idea if one was a man or if it might have been a married couple?) the crappy writer of the two got the keep the name and continue on.  Obviously, the publishers never noticed that they kept the crappy writer…

  7. 7

    Isn’t Fern Michaels a man?

    A few comments and my mental image of Fern Michaels has forever changed. Instead of a Southern Belle type with flowing auburn hair and lilac-printed frocks (s)he’s a poorly-shaven middle-aged man in bad drag. He’s reading aloud this oeuvre at E.D’Trix’s party with dramatic orator’s gestures and a faux-hispanic accent. You know, the one that teeters in shiny plastic fuschia espadrilles on the brink of morphing into Welsh at the flip of a dipthong.

    Thank you guys.

  8. 8
    Amanda says:

    I picked this up a while ago & put it back on the shelf just as fast. As soon as the ‘heroine’ took off with the little girl I decided enough was enough. My TBR is too big to fit time in for a heroine who thinks kidnapping children is ok.

    I do like xenophobic buttmonkey & there does need to be a category for negative stars.

  9. 9
    Jami says:

    “If Candy lived in this book’s world, she’d mispronounce her “r’s” and refer to herself as “me” instead of “I” and she’d probably put pee-pee in your Coke at every opportunity so as not to miss a single cliche of being from another country.”
    This is literally the 10th time I’ve read that sentence, and I’m still cracking up.

  10. 10
    Trudi says:

    If you´re gonna read the Maria dialogues aloud, consider that the Argentinian accent sound much more like Italian than the Spanish accents that you could find from other countries.
    Yes, we have different accents too!

  11. 11
    E.D'Trix says:

    Well, part of the authenticity of the reading would involve mispronouncing and slaughtering the dialogue and language of the book. (Only fair as she has savagely murdered common sense and plausibility.)

    My interpretation of Fern’s Maria would be as fake generic hispanic as I could make it.

  12. 12
    Trudi says:

    Uh, you´re right. Then feel free to use a sombrero while you´re at it. You could put it on when reading Maria´s part and then take it off to switch to Dani´s…

  13. 13
    Tonda says:

    I’ve “gifted” a few books this way over the years.

    I abandoned How Stella Got Her Groove Back on an airplane, after reading less than half of it.

    I dumped Outlander in a hotel in DC after wading through 350 pages and deciding I just couldn’t face another word.

    I left To Tame a Highland Warrior on the BART train after reading only a few pages (in which Scottish warriors clash in clan tartan kilts hundreds of years before kilts—let alone clan setts—existed).

    And I chucked Highlander Unbound in the trash to spare the innocent from ever having to read that awful, awful book.

  14. 14
    SamG says:

    I have read one FM book.  I don’t remember the name of it…just know it made me put her off the ‘readable’ list.

    I am not as articulate with my reasons for not liking books.  Nor would I be as humorous.

    Thanks so much for having this site…

    Sam..back to lurking

  15. 15
    Keziah Hill says:

    I’ve never read her but see her on the shelves all the time and had it in my mind I must investigated her one day. Thanks for saving me!

  16. 16
    Jami says:

    Come on Tonda, what’s historical accuracy when there are GIANT SCOTTISH COCKS hidden under those as yet uninvented kilts!  I remain blissfully ignorant of historical fashion and still believe a rake can get a regency heroine out of her dress in five seconds flat.

  17. 17
    sk says:

    The sheer ubiquity of Fern Michaels’s books had me half convinced that there might be something to them.  Thank you – oh thank you! – for saving me from dumb-dumb heroines and generically accented foreign children.

  18. 18
    Karen says:

    Oh yikes, I read one Fern Michaels book, “The Nosy Neighbor”  …. I got through it, but I felt like I should then email the author and ask her to pay me for the work that took. Silly dialog, contrived plot… blech.

    She immediately went on my “never again” list.

  19. 19
    Mel-O-Drama says:

    I read FM’s Yesterday.

    Correction, I read that book until about 3/4 of the way through we discover that the bitchy white bread spoiled rotten heroine, who had been adopted and raised by the wealthiest family in town, was actually african-american. And the “Helper boy” who had been in love with the Bitchy Heroine since he was in diapers, was apparently, white.

    Ladies and gentlemen, that book became my very first wall-banger EVER. Literally.

    And to this day, I shudder when I see Fern Michael’s name.

  20. 20
    shaina says:

    *sqeak*
    *is ashamed*
    uh…i actually like fern michaels…

    DONT KILL ME!!!!
    i’ve read most of her books (tho after reading this review i probably wont read this one) and i’ve never thought they were horrible…
    *runs and hides*

  21. 21

    Aw, c’mon out, Shaina and take it like a big girl!  That kris Candy is sharpening?  Pay it no mind. 

    Seriously, lots of people do like FM’s books.  So even if it’s just a guilty pleasure for you (I feel that way about Jayne Anne Krentz), tell us why you like her/him/them?

  22. 22
    Candy says:

    Shit, I love Dara Joy’s novels, and I’m not afraid to fly the banner of my cheesey love high. Shaina, you ain’t got nothing to be ashamed of.

  23. 23
    Danielle says:

    Dani, the heroine, is an asshole

    TSTL xenophobic buttmonkey, you’re making my name look stupid. Quit using it.

  24. 24
    Jackie says:

    Candy, you missed the point.  While I’m not sure of Fern’s religious leanings, this reads like a Texas Southern Baptist trying to do a Catholic heroine.  As a former Southern Baptist married to a former Catholic, it was hysterical.  Unconsciously so, I presume.  The heroine spent the whole novel smoking like a fiend and drunk on her xenophobic butt.  Which is the stereotype the Baptists have of the Catholics.  I read every word after the initial disbelief wore off.  Very funny

  25. 25
    Alyssa says:

    Ouch. I’m glad you didn’t read the whole thing. It sounds like your head might have exploded. I will stay away from that book.

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