Or do they?
I received an ARC copy of this novel to provide my honest review.
I give this book a 2.75/5. Here is my breakdown.
Characters: 3/5. Meh. The characters in Birth of Hope were, in the main, one-dimensional and uninteresting, although not actively dislikeable. The main character is very much a “Gary Lou,” someone who has few defining characteristics other than that he is a prophesied “Chosen One” who has the most power of anyone, despite his lack of training. It’s a tried-and-true cliché, but that doesn’t change the fact that it IS one, and so the author needs to use special skill in pulling it off. J.K. Rowling pulled it off by making Harry Potter weak in several areas, making him relatable, plying him with flaws and supporting him with other characters. The other characters in Birth of Hope feel like window-dressing for the drama that is Damien, props that propel him toward bigger and better things rather than people in their own right. Even his struggles with negativity, hopelessness, and anger don’t feel genuine.
Plot/Storyline: 2/5. Even more clichéd than the characters. The story is fast-paced and allows little time for character development. Twists are thrown in with little or no foreshadowing and the whole thing feels generally unsatisfying. It picks up a little bit at the end, but I still was left feeling like I had wasted my time.
Mechanics: 3/5. The pacing wasn’t bad. Although I was dissatisfied with the storyline, I didn’t feel like the writing itself was dragging me down, or that the author spent too much time on any particular thing. The time advances were difficult to wrap my head around, as the situation would greatly change during a chapter break and I would have to dig into the text to find out how much time had gone by.
Spelling/Grammar: 2/5. In the ARC version that I received, there were several missed periods (several per page in many places) and verb tense shifts, flipping from past to present and back again. The author has told me that these were fixed, so I won’t factor them too heavily into my final rating.
Overall: 2.75/5. I think that this author has potential. The idea of the Spectres is interesting and his descriptions of them are actually very well done. I think that he could benefit from another two drafts, getting some feedback from beta readers on what is working and what isn’t in the story. I recommend looking at Stephen King’s On Writing, as I do with all new authors. It’s a highly informative book that really helped me get started in my writing career. Thank you, A.J. Trevors. I wish you the best.