Team Escapist, has decided to hold off on posting actual scores, but that doesn’t mean reviews aren’t coming. As said before, this review expresses my own opinion and not the opinions of other members of either Team Escapist, or other judges on other teams within the SPSFC2 competition.
The review …
I had a hard time when it came to sitting down and writing this review. In fact, it was hard not to DNF this book after the first 10%.
This book simply read as a ‘good idea’ and good ‘first draft’, but lacked almost everything else needed to make a possibly great story idea a marketable book.
Nothing was paced properly. The ‘being different’ trope fell flat. Info-dumps were disguised as dialogue. Unrealistic situations. Clumsily written scenes. Poor tension build-ups that led to nothing. A genre shift halfway through. And POV issues.
If you can’t get the fundamentals of writing, the rudimentary rules right, there is no passing grade.
I can say, though, that there was a proper beginning, middle and end. And there were some interesting world building elements, but nothing came together. The ‘being different’ trope wasn’t executed well. The book seemed to promote ‘differences are great’. Yet, it didn’t really dive that deep into it, at least, the theme didn’t continue throughout the book. And when it did, I felt the protagonist a contradiction to it. She was very judgemental, yet angered at the judgements and statements made against her. If the theme followed through and the story ended with her learning something about her own behaviour, it could have been forgiven.
I also don’t know how this book, its story, really had anything to do with ‘being different’. Other than a few mentions.
I will say, there was no slow burn here. Everything came to the forefront in the first 10% - 20% of the story, but yet, in a somewhat large, confusing info dump disguised as dialogue. But the rest of the story did move forward, for the most part. Unfortunately, it was obvious the author didn’t fully understand how to weave exposition, dialogue and action together. Regardless of wanting to know some of the information, my eyes glazed over. Too much all at once. Spread it out. Integrate backstory into the story as it moves forward. Release info as it’s needed, not all at once. Example, the very beginning where Ellie learns her entire history in one long, drawn out conversation.
The story also lacked a correlation between realism and tension. Julian, a security expert (as in, extreme expert), does a security sweep outside an elevator to make sure the people he’s mandated to keep safe, stay safe when they exit. But the mother takes one step off the elevator after Julian gives the ‘all clear’ and is attacked??? From someone simply hiding behind a car??? Everything is convenient and simple. The author tried to build tension, but then didn’t know what to do with it. And all this ‘showed’ me, was that Julian is NOT a security expert. Which I don’t think was the purpose of this scene.
Also, what was the point of Bethany? I don’t see how she added anything to the story, yet, she seemed to have enough page time to suggest she should. Characters should have roles and responsibilies. They shouldn’t simply be plot contrivences.
POV issues were also a problem; jumping from 3rd person limited to omnipotent within the same paragraph, making it obvious the author doesn’t have a strong grasp of POV. Omnipotent POV is not head-hopping while in 3rd person limited.
Then, there was the genre shift. The story turned into a romance. This book was not specified as a romance, therefore, this created a broken promise to the reader. Genres need to stick within their genres. That’s not to say you can’t meld two or three genres, but if so, each genre must be handled properly. And you shouldn't make a new addition of another genre a twist.
Oh, look, the story led to a romance between two characters!
What if I didn't want to read a romance?
At most, I’d say this book felt like self-insertion, wish-fulfillment based on a world, and characters, the author loves. I believe it had great intentions, but they were unsuccessful in their execution.