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.

flag-of-new-zealand

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

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