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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Twisted Spiral - Did Not Finish, 2/5 Stars

Today, I am reviewing the Urban Fantasy-Time Travel novel The Twisted Spiral by Arlene Cabus Poerio. In this story, the protagonist is revealed to have special powers, the ability to ‘ken,’ or know things she should not otherwise know, and ends up time-travelling back to Ancient Egypt.

I was unable to finish this book, giving up after Chapter Three. I give it a 2/5. Here is my breakdown.

Characters: 1.5/5. After reading three chapters, I had no emotional attachment to any of the characters, especially the protagonist. I didn’t care what was going on, or about her emotional distress or burning need to get to Egypt…it was all disjointed and felt unpalatable.

Plot/Storyline: 2/5. I don’t know what the final plot was, given that I couldn’t get through the book, but what I did read didn’t seem like much of anything. As I discuss in Flow, below, the constant flashbacks in the early portion of the novel did a lot to take the “steam” out of the read. I shouldn’t be three chapters in, not care about anyone, and not have any idea what’s going on or why it’s important..

Flow: 1/5. Ack! The whole first chapter is constant back-and-forth flashbacks used for exposition. Flashbacks are tricky things in the best of times, and when used this way they were like tire spikes to my verisimilitude and immersion. No, please. No.
Spelling/Grammar: 4/5. I didn’t notice any typographical errors, but the dialogue was often disjointed and felt contrived in some places. Nothing that I would flag if my attention had not already been aroused, but present nonetheless.

Overall: 2/5. I think that Ms. Poerio has some potential as a writer, and that this book could benefit from another round or two of content edits, looking to improve the flow. As it is, it starts too slowly and takes too long to get anywhere for my liking. 

Left Behind Book One: The Forbidden Voyage by R. Anne Polcastro: 3.75/5 Stars

Today, I am reviewing the Dystopian/SciFi Left Behind by R. Anne Polcastro. This is a story in which Those Who Have Come Before have destroyed the planet through their own willful negligence and abuse of natural resources, leading to a terrible disaster that sent huge amounts of radiation into the environment, decimating civilization and sending many people underground while the more fortunate ones escaped to another world.

I give this book a 3.75/5. Here is my breakdown.

Characters: 4/5. The characters in this book were solid and believable. I particularly enjoyed watching Endirion’s development as he went from timid, indoctrinated youth to utilizing his unique talents in helping the “mission” progress. The main two characters were especially interesting, but even the supporting cast was well put-together. I look forward to finding out some of the deeper motivations behind the actions some of the characters take.

Plot/Storyline: 3.5/5. The plotline here is a tad derivative, by which I mean that I can think of similar storylines off the top of my head. Still, Polcastro’s take on the story is fairly unique, and brought forward by the strength of the characters. The book reads like a combination of The Island and Stephen King’s Gunslinger novels…which is not a bad thing.

Flow: 4/5. Well written. I enjoyed the language and the pace of the story. As a MG/YA novel, it isn’t as action-packed or as compelling as some of the more adult stories I’ve read recently, but that is no fault of the work. I can imagine middle-school children both enjoying the book and being at least as interested in it as I was. The crises which befall our two heroes do a good job of maintaining reader interest as well.
Spelling/Grammar: 4/5. There were a few typographical errors, mostly limited to ending quotation marks that were missing. These in no way distracted or detracted from the work.

Overall: 3.75/5. An enjoyable, solid read on all levels. I wasn’t ever bored or distracted from my read. Polcastro did an excellent job of maintaining my interest. Thank you for the read, and I wish you the best of luck as you move forward!