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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Artificial Light by Nathan Wall - A mix of elements I love...but a book that I didn't.

Today, I am reviewing the Science-Fiction/Fantasy story Artifical Light by Nathan Wall. As with my last entry, this one crosses genres by mixing science with mythology and religious apocrypha. It is the third in a series, and I can’t help but think that I might have enjoyed it more if I had read the first two.

This genre describes one of my favorite types of book – in this one, several gods/Angels are factioning off, breaking into different groups. The birth of an “angel-born” sets off a pogrom of sorts, leading to the death of Osiris and the exile of his family.

I received an ARC copy of this novel to provide my honest review. However, I was not able to complete the book, stopping after about 30% due to issues with its construction that will be covered below.

Still, I give this book a 3/5, based on what I did read. Here is my breakdown.

 Characters: 4/5. Easily the strongest point in the book. The idea of intermixing mythologies appeals to me enough that I do it in my own writing, and, individually, the characters that Nathan has created seem like real people – even with all their strange, supernatural powers – and have realistic motivations. I wish I could have gotten to know them a bit better in the first third of the novel. 

Plot/Storyline: 2/5. I still have no idea what was going on in the story. The prologue, showing the death of Osiris (presumably…again, I only finished 1/3rd the novel) was well done and exciting, but after that, I feel like the author lost track of his character threads. I understand the concept of a slow build, but after 30% the book had failed to hook me at all.

Mechanics: 2.5/5. The pace and the constant jumping between perspectives worked together to defeat me. I felt like my attention was being divided by too many different points-of-view, by time-jumps, and by occurrences across time and space. This kept me from engaging with the story – I don’t know who’s doing what, I’m not even sure who IS what.

Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5. The copy was very clean and easy to read. The words chosen were well-picked and I didn’t find any significant issues of grammar. Thank you!

Overall: 3/5. This could be good. This could be SO, SO good. All the essential pieces of an excellent story are here. I believe that Artificial Light is an uncut gem – ready to burst forth, once we trim away the parts that are obscuring the inner beauty. I couldn’t finish it, but that doesn’t make it bad – just a little too slow, a little too jumpy for me. Keep at it, Nathan. Thank you for writing.

You can find the book at the link below.