[M]y perusal technique has been the same since college: 1) read the jacket notes until it starts giving away the plot, then stop; 2) read the "about the author" section (the more awards listed, the more likely the book will suck), 3) read the first few paragraphs and see if it grabs; and 4) read a random page in the middle to see if it gets boring (on the premise that most authors hone the intro, but can get lazy later). This usually steers me away from the dreck.He reckons that that skipping the "about the author" section got him in trouble this time when he ended up with this.
Now, my method of selecting unknown books from unknown authors is very similar to his. But in this case, I'd have put the book down after reading the jacket copy because:
The premise seemed interesting; conjoined female twins, one of them in a coma.
I've found that, generally, such gimmicks seldom work. Conjoined twins--comatose or fully awake--double-jointed hermaphrodites, dwarves with hemophilia. They're all signs that the author has SOMETHING TO SAY. Frequently that something will amount to this:
Constant readers will know that I loathe all things that smell of "Identity Politics". This book is essentially a manifesto on IP. Check this out from Jeff Turrentine's (The Washington Post) review on Amazon: "Jackson's alternative universe is much like the one we inhabit now, with a few key exceptions. In it, American remorse over the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has led to the creation of a postwar National Penitence Ground in eastern Nevada, a "Proving Ground of American Sadness" where a "despondent American government [has] commenced organized hostilities against itself" in the form of repeated bombings. ...
Now I'm not entirely ruling out a touching love story between a double-jointed hermaphrodite and a comatose conjoined twin, but I'll wait for the reviews.