Search This Blog

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Birth of Hope by A.J. Trevors - A rushed, cliched story...but glimmers of potential show through. 2.75/5.

Today, I am reviewing the Science-Fiction/Fantasy story Birth of Hope by A.J. Trevors. I classify it as both genres because, although the novel has a strong science-fiction element, with unexplainable technology, alien races, and multiple planets, there are also things that are unexplainable through the lens of science in the book’s universe. This is the first in the Gaia Chronicles series, and releases in early February. In this story, there is an interplanetary invasion by the Vangarian, a lizard-like race capable of summoning extra-dimensional beings called Spectres. These Spectres are so powerful on the battlefield that only another can defeat one…but the allied races don’t have the ability to summon them.

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.

Good luck!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Keeper and the Rulership by Emily Martha Sorensen - engaging, a lot of fun, and a worthwhile read!

Today, I am reviewing the Fantasy story The Keeper and the Rulership by Emily Martha Sorensen. While this is definitely a YA (Young Adult, for our newcomers) style book, I enjoyed its in-depth character development and plot very much.

In this book, we follow the adventures of the young woman, Raneh, as she learns why she has magic and comes to terms with her destiny. This is a very solid YA fantasy, with enjoyable characters, that stays away from the most onerous of tropes.

I give this book a 4/5. Here is my breakdown.

 Characters: 4/5. Sorensen does a great job in establishing the characters and their motivations. Each is sufficiently distinct from the others and has obvious motivations that make sense. Their interactions are fun and they fit well within the world that she’s established. I enjoyed spending time with them; their behaviors were consistent and well-reasoned, with little of the “random” things that characters can do because of “plot necessity.”

 Plot/Storyline: 4/5. A fun story that, while it doesn’t leave profound, lasting marks on my soul, was a very worthy use of my time. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in Raneh’s world, walking beside her as she came to her realizations and made her decisions. The development of the world was well-done, and felt very real to me. My only concern with the storyline is the ending. The ending itself was fine, but it felt abbreviated, like it came too soon after the climax of the story with insufficient denouement. I would have liked more wrap-up.

Technical Aspects: 4/5. The story moved quickly and was a treat to read. I had a good time and didn’t trip up over choppy sentences, poor dialogue, or exposition. A well-constructed book that allowed me to access the story.

Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5. There were a few, very few, typos in this book. Well done!

 Overall: 4/5. This is a very solid book, clean, fun, and well-crafted. I enjoyed it very much and want to read more from Sorensen. She is very talented and I look forward to seeing more of her work. Thank you!