I am a writer from South Wales. My life isn’t very interesting, so my imagination has to compensate – hence my stories. I don't include a lot of description in my writing, because I think it's important that the reader imagines the characters and scenarios for themselves. I wrote my first novella at the age of fourteen, and I haven't really stopped since then! I don't really write certain genres, so I end up trying to fit my books in somewhere after I finish them. This probably isn't the best way to go about it, but hey. Rules are made to be broken.
on Aug. 27, 2014 :
First off, I have to say it's hard to write well in the first person, given the inherent limitations of the perspective, and even harder to write well in the present tense; this book is written using both. However, my usual apprehension towards this combination was soon dispelled and forgotten. I barely noticed the present tense, which can be horribly glaring when done poorly; instead it gave the dream-like quality of the story and writing a real immediacy.
The Smashwords page has a very good description, and to mention any more of the story would risk wandering too far into spoiler territory. The story itself always moves forward, not dragging or slowing for long, boring speeches or exposition; the reader learns more of the strange occurrences as Eddie, the main character, does. Just enough information on the supernatural happenings (though the character of Clemency might argue that they’re really not) is revealed to keep the reader guessing, and, importantly turning the pages to find out more. In my case, I was tapping the e-reader screen, making this a real… screen-tapper?
What starts out as a simple yet strange theft soon turns into something more unusual and compelling, and the I was certainly swept up in Eddie’s journey to find out more about the significance behind the stolen items, and just what the mysterious Clemency really knows. Of course those stole items prove significant, and the recurring symbolism (especially the hummingbird that features on the cover) only reveals more of their meaning without feeling heavy-handed.
As for the title of the book, which I kept wondering about, its meaning turns up near the end and ties the story together nicely and with a lot of poignancy.
Chester herself admits that she only uses a few details and prefers to let the reader fill in the gaps. This isn’t a bad thing; instead of a list, the reader is given a few choice and vivid details, enough to fill in the rest as they go.
Aside from the protagonist Eddie, there are also her friends and flatmates, Jamal and Annemarie, who are all developed well over the course of the story. Jamal and Eddie share something of a relationship in the story, which develops naturally from their friendship instead of feeling forced or contrived.
While Annemarie, a somewhat straight-laced girl who they think might not believe the increasingly strange events happening to Eddie, doesn’t get much development until the second half, her development towards the end is convincing, and her own relationship really lifted the ending.
But perhaps the most intriguing character is Clemency, a strange girl who may or may not be psychic. To say more of this eerie yet endearing character would risk revealing too much of the story and her true nature. Her shy, quiet personality, and the fact that she always seems to know more than she lets on keep the reader guessing just what her true motives are. Is she good? Bad? Do those concepts really apply to her? Whatever the case, she propels the story forward by revealing just enough to keep the reader (and Eddie) wanting to know more.
I really felt for the characters, and its this affection that’s developed over the course of the story that made me feel genuine apprehension and concern for them as the story escalated and reached a compelling conclusion.
Here’s where this e-book (free, I might add) really shines. Both Chester’s Smashwords profile and the main character of 12:08 mention a longing for the superior writing of the classics compared to modern writing. This writing is nothing like the classics. And that’s a good thing.
Chester’s writing is just the opposite: simple, straight-forward, and very easy to read. This is by no means a bad thing; it keeps the story moving forward at a brisk pace, making sure it never drags and keeping the reader moving ever-forward.
As for the dream-like writing mentioned earlier, it’s hard to really describe without reading the book yourself. Obviously the events of the story are not quite normal, which help with this impression, but it’s the descriptions that really make the atmosphere. One in particular sticks in my mind. At one point a completely average tree is described as looking like it has stars hanging from it. Simple, yet terribly effective. There are more instances of these simple, poetic descriptions (like the sunlight in a room) that, like those of the characters, carry a lot of weight.
The only criticism would be some of the dialogue tags. “Said” and its variations would have worked equally well without being jarring (“diagnose”) is the one that stands out to me. There are also 2-3 very small typos I noticed, but nothing major. These are just very minor things, and certainly don’t detract from the overall writing.
Overall, 12:08 is a wonderful little story well worth the price of admission. I would have gladly paid full price for something of this overall quality. Chester really proves that indie books can be as good as or better than traditionally published books, both in price and quality. At a little over 50k words I finished it in a few hours, but those hours just seemed to slip by as I kept reading to find out what would happen next (I had to stop reading close to midnight and well after bedtime when the words started to blur. If that’s not a strong endorsement, I don’t know what is). If, like me, you’re wary of the first person present, I still suggest you give 12:08 a read. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
In fact, for the price, the strong, believable characters, the compelling story, and the beautiful yet simple writing, (which culminates in a touching and satisfying ending) there’s no reason NOT to read 12:08. And maybe leave a review to show your appreciation for the hard work and effort Chester put into this story. I know I had to.
(review of free book)