on June 25, 2012 :
Please note that these are just my thoughts on this story, and I am more less typing out what I would say to this author about this particular book. Others may have a different reading experience/ expectation then my own.
I struggled with how I would review this book. In the end I decided there was no way that I could write a review of this book without using spoilers so be advised
***this review has SPOILERS.****
I had thought the book would be more like its' description of an action adventure zombie apocalyptic storyline that somehow included dragons, after all that is what the synopsis promises it would be, however the book that I just read was not that.
While I was puzzling what to write in the review, the quote "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." came to my mind, so with that I am writing this review off the story that is, not the story that should be, might be, or could be.
I give this novella 2.5 out of 5 stars, but since that isn't an option I am pushing this up to three stars.
There are some typos/grammar issues with this story but not so much as to be too distracting.
The characters: As they currently stand, Most all of the characters are standard 'stock' characters of the genre (the sheriff, the shy mysterious youth, the grandmother who seems to be hiding things). The only exception being the protagonist, William whose back-story is painfully detailed.
The pace (flow) of the plot is slow and steady.
The promised plot (end of times, surviving the apocalypse) never takes place inside this novella.
When I realized this story was likely not going in the same place as the synopsis and I started to think of 'the plot' as being one of a man describing a fishing exposition, I was able to push through to the ending.
Other then preparing for the character to be emotionally wounded, generally isolated from society as a whole, and on an island with everything he'd ever need and then some (including a band of misfits) this book had no point to it. It could have been easily chopped down by 1/3 its current length with no noticeable difference.
Plot resolution: none.
I once had a conversation with a young author of a popular episodic series available on another e book site, about what episodic novellas were and how to review them. He told me that they are to be thought of similar to television episodes in a larger series. My trouble with his series, and with this book being a part one of a book is this:
Each episode of a TV series as 'mini' plots that are introduced in that episode and while the episode runs these mini plots have all the steps that any normal movie (or in this case, book) would have [Plot exposition, character crisis, plot twists, and (plot) resolutions] without these steps they are is no 'hook' to keep the reviewer (reader) interested and coming back for more each week.
In addition to the 'mini' plot each television episode adds to the over all series plot (character developments, twists in storyline and so on) again to keep us interested in finding out where the series is going.
This novella fails to provide a 'mini' plot, resulting in the feeling that it is little more then a very long plot exposition.
If the future episodes are to be judged based on this novella, then the book as a whole does not look promising. The pace is too slow, the action in non-existence, the details are way more then needed, the characters are both too shallow and too detailed.
This is only the second time that I have said this to an author, but this story is a case of 'too much talking and not enough action' and way too much information.
Where is the apocalypse? Where are the Zombies? Where is the struggle of the fight? You have your guy way too prepared, with his only problem being that he might run out of ice? Seriously?
You have your character an expert on boats and navigation, but he has been camping/boating once with his father?
The trouble with over thinking your characters and their crisis is the same as over parenting, you have to let them fail for them to grow. You have to let them be inexperienced and make really stupid mistakes for the to be an emotional/physical crisis for your character to experience and grow. After all it is through the characters failures that we (the reader) bond to the characters.
If the ugly duckling did not experience his embarrassment and shame of not looking like a duck, then the fable would have taught nothing and it would be just a story of a swan, who looks like other swans his age, and grows up to be like every other swan.
Personal faults, moral failures, and character crisis are the glue of the storyline, without them (or without enough of them) the story becomes trivial and pointless.
Ok I have probably over hammered those points.
This story is flawed, but there is a story in here somewhere.
One last recommendation to the author (and I have already hit on that once but here it is again) unless something directly affects the plot execution there is no need to go into a lengthy description of it. Allow your readers to fill in the details on the nonessential elements, otherwise your story is too wordy.
(review of free book)