Checking out the competition: Part Two

A month or so ago, when summer was a newborn, I boarded an airplane to New Zealand with three new authors’ novels tucked into my Kindle.


As an emerging writer, I’m interested in how my peers are doing, so I decided to pick three ebook novels by three writers I had never heard of.  Not being all that into absolute fairness (life is never fair, my mother always says) and being a little tapped out on cash (vacationing 10,000 miles from home will do that to you) I checked out Amazon’s Top 100 Free list. From there I picked three novels in genre’s similar to what I write, Sci Fi and Fantasy.  I was hopeful that I would pick three winners–top 100 list and all–but also a little worried that I might get a dud or two–that whole free thing is a little sketch.

I was right on all counts, more or less.

Of the three, one was an unreadable mess, one I finished but didn’t really enjoy, and one was a lot of fun. That said, it’s just one guy’s opinion.

The Mess

No, I’m not naming names here. I’m not a mudslinger. But here is what turned me off before I hit page 3

  • Extreme overuse of adjectives, often 2 at a time.  I counted 19 in the first paragraph. Examples:
    • pale, dripping slime
    • cold dead light
    • deep and abiding hunger
  • Some very purple prose
  • Clichés and common tropes

This said, the story line had promise and I potted no grammar errors. But for me at least it was too messy read.  I stopped on page 11.

The OK

Clone Hunter, by Victor Methos. Hey I read it all the way through. Met my expectations for a free book, but it wasn’t good enough to want more. Some thoughts, good and not so good:

  • The opening was great:
    • “It is my birthday and I can’t help but think how odd it is that I will die before nightfall.”
  • Too many points of view, although at least it was possible to follow
  • Interesting premise—cloning
  • Some nice plot twists
  • Confusing at times—see POV issue and plot twists comments
  • A little too preachy (“The Peoples Republic of America”… seriously?)

No serious flaws to be clear but also just not that great of a story.

The Fun

Clovenhoof, by Heide Goody and Ian Grant.  Satan gets into a tiff with the Archangel Michael and gets sent to Birmingham, England to live in a flat with some loony neighbors. A crazy premise but a story that lives up to the craziness. Stomach clutching funny at times,  tongue and cheek always, this was a really fun read.  Not going to be on Oprah but still a very good book.  As an American reader, the British-isms got in the way a little bit but never too much, and the wry British humor more than compensated.  Sometimes a little too offbeat for my tastes (Joan of Arc shows up, and the lisping angel gets old fast) and the irreverence also got a little old, but mostly I was laughing so hard I didn’t mind. And only two adjectives in the first paragraph.

As for what I’m reading now, my wife bought me a hardcover copy of Dan Brown’s Inferno for my birthday at the local used book store. And I’m cranking away at my novella Gho.

CR Hodges

This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Science Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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