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Smashwords book reviews by Sean Watson
- Spiral X
on Jan. 03, 2011
I enjoyed Spiral X quite a bit, which was surprising because I've read my fill of female vampire hunters over the past few years. It is obvious that there is more intended for the main character, Cheryl, so some things are left unexplained as is typical with a continuing series. The story itself is self-contained and resolves itself nicely, so the larger mysteries are the "hook" to get people to read more books. Even without that, however, I'd say that the world created is interesting enough that I would want to keep reading.
In particular, the author's take on vampires is one I've never seen anywhere, and actually makes complete sense. If he came up with that all on his own, I have to say that I'm impressed. Vampires have been done to death recently, so anything both new and non-sparkly is a welcome surprise. The hunters and the larger "organization" that becomes involved was also handled quite nicely and believably. Well, as believably as anything that involves hunting down vampires, obviously.
One thing that stood out to me is that, except for one or two moments, it made virtually no difference that the main character was female. I'm wondering then what prompted the author to decide she was going to be female. It isn't a bad thing that she is, but as I noted there are a plethora of female vampire hunters nowadays. It was certainly refreshing to read one that didn't include all sorts of kinky, erotic sex, that's for sure, but almost everything about her was asexual, so there must have been something behind his decision. Also, one of her overtly "feminine" traits (the "pouty face") seemed unnecessary. Believe me, I've seen such a face and fallen victim to it far too many times to count, so I understand what the intent behind it was, but it seemed sort of tacked on. It wasn't bad, but just didn't need to be there I felt.
I won't get into any specific plot details, but the writing was well done and conveyed the story in an easy to digest manner. There was just the right amount of exposition and figuring things out to balance out the action, which there was quite a bit of. The characters were instantly distinct and recognizable, which is often a pet peeve of mine. There is nothing I hate more than a book where I need to keep notes to tell characters apart. While I realize that people in real life often have names, looks, or traits very similar to each other, in a fictional novel there's no need for that and only serves to confuse the reader. That was simply not an issue here. Every character was introduced and became immediately recognizable, all without extensive exposition describing them. Same with the locations and settings. Just enough detail was given to let me imagine it in my head, and that's it. That's exactly how I want my books to read, and this book was perfect in that regard.
As mentioned earlier, there are some mysteries that are left unsolved, on purpose I have to imagine. Ignoring those, the main storyline was interesting enough to keep me reading, but not so complex that it somehow gets resolved before I'm even aware of it or without really knowing why, which happens more often than it should. Like a good detective story, the plot proceeded from one clue to another, and the surprises were believable and well-implemented. Besides the purposely unexplained elements, the ending was realistic and believable, with no deus ex machina swooping in to save the day. It could have been deeper and more involved, with lots of subplots and distractions, but it didn't need to be and didn't suffer due to their lack. And the first person perspective, which doesn't bother me at all, helps limit the aforementioned distractions.
I would read a second novel immediately, and anticipate that one will be even better as the author's writing talent increases. Get this book, it's a steal at the normal price, let alone discounted prices.
on Jan. 31, 2011
For a short story, Split gets a lot done. The main character, Erika, immediately becomes familiar and comfortable. As the introduction to another character in the Eternal War (begun in Spiral X), it accomplishes its purpose of making me want to find out more about her while still giving me a distinct and satisfying story in its own right. Don't let the fact it is only 15,000 words fool you, this is a meaty story and well worth your time.