It's entirely possible this is a great book.
I wouldn't know, however, because I made it one chapter into Pattern Recognition before I gave up (for the 2nd time) because it was literally the worst first chapter I've ever read in a published book. At least that I can remember reading. It's possible that some space aliens have been abducting me and forcing me to read alien-written books - which I assume have really bad first chapters - and then erasing my memory, all part of a ploy to guide humanity, via literature. That seems unlikely, but then if you had told me a reality TV star man-baby would have become president of the United States, I would have called that even more unlikely. Either way, here's my Pattern Recognition inspired guide on how to write a terrible first chapter:NUMBER ONE:
Make the prose so purple, so overwritten, that the reader's face is at risk of getting a tan, to such a degree that the ACA will classify the chapter as a possible carcinogen. I wish that my search for examples required me to go beyond the first page, but it doesn't. Here's the first sentence: Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.
Ever-circling dire wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm you say?! That's, like, totes a reference to sleep being 'counting sheep!' Maybe a little Game of Thrones reference? Dire wolves, right. Winter is coming. Eh? Eh? Right? Yeah? Am I right? Well if I'm wrong, I don't wanna be right.
Here's the next sentence:It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option now.
Neuroscientists of the Caribbean: Awash in Limbic Tides, starring our hero Ben Carson and his side-kick Sam Harris. And 'all of the above'? I'm just gonna start throwing that into my lists. I like Old El Paso tacos, Premium Angus beef, Chiquita bananas, all of the above, and Count Chocula cereal.Nothing at all in the German fridge, so new that its interior smells only of cold and long-chain monomers.
Long-chain monomers? Even if that made sense, it'd be an entirely pointless sensory detail since no human being associates 'long-chain monomers' with a smell. That'd be like saying, it smells only of 'black holes.' Do you know what that smells like? I don't. But 'long chain monomers' doesn't make sense anyway. When you combine monomers into a long-chain you get a POLYMER. If you google "Long chain monomers" half your hits are related to this book, like this mocking short
.She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical cord down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic.
Hell, I kinda like this one when taken on its own, but I'm still on the first page here and when combined with everything else, it's much too much too much much too too choo choo COME ON, RIDE THE TRAIN, HEY, RIDE IT
Make so many name-drops, so many specific allusions that the reader can't decide whether your book is a book or a commercial:
It's not enough for something to be a fridge, or a lamp, or money, or tea, in Pattern Recognition('s first chapter). No it must be a GERMAN fridge. Or an ITALIAN floor lamp. It must be a "bag of some imported Californian tea substitute" and the "covers of paperbacks look like Australian money."
Then our German fridge is full of "two dry pucks of Weetabix..." and when our protagonist Cayce puts on clothes, we get, "a small boy's black Fruit Of The Loom T-shirt, thoroughly shrunken, a thin gray V-necked pullover purchased by the half-dozen from a supplier to New England prep schools, and a new oversized pair of black 501's, every trademark removed."
Every trademark removed, eh? THE IRONY.
After which she looks at her reflection and "grimaces at it, thinking for some reason of a boyfriend who'd insisted on comparing her to Helmut Newton's nude portrait of Jane Birkin."
Nice! Combine the art with the crass consumerism. That, my friends, is what we call JUXTAPOSITION.
And then the requisite Apple plug: "He won't allow decorators through the door unless they basically agree to not do that which they do, yet he holds on to this Mac for the way you can turn it upside down and remove its innards with a magic little aluminum handle."
And finishing, near the end, a combination of a bit of everything: "Still doing heels, she checks her watch, a Korean clone of an old-school Casio G-Shock, its plastic case sanded free of logos with a scrap of Japanese micro-abrasive."
I haven't seen such blatant product placement since Krispy Kreme's invasion
of Power Rangers. Which is saying something, since I didn't even watch that movie.NUMBER THREE:
Make your first chapter completely devoid of any plot or plot hooks whatsoever!
I already gave you the first sentence. Here's the last one: "She drapes a pair of limp green foam pads over the foot rail, carefully positions her feet, lifts them on invisible stiletto heels, and begins her ten prehensiles."
OH DAMN CLIFFHANGER!!! Will she pull a muscle while doing pilates?! *bites nails* *edge of the seat*
No, but really, here's what happens in the first chapter: Cayce describes her non-lover Damien's empty, boring home. Then she makes tea and surfs the internet a bit. Then she takes a shower. Then she does pilates. THE END.
I'm not even joking! If someone held a contest for the 'Summary of the most boring first chapter ever,' that'd probably win it.
So, yeah. I've enjoyed the other Gibson books I've read, and this one might be great, too. But I'm not going to ever know because the first chapter is so horrendously bad that this happened