Why do I keep doing this to myself? After some of the encounters I’ve had with self-published authors, not to mention the dreck I’ve read for Netgalley and LibraryThing giveaways and because I got it free on Ammie, why do I still do it?
I’m a masochist, and/or optimistic because of the very few real successes I’ve come across, I guess, and a sucker for a premise that sounds promising. (Also the chalice with the palace or the flagon with the dragon.) So I keep going back to the LibraryThing giveaways, and keep putting my name in.
I feel like I’ve said this about a thousand times (well, it’s probably only a few dozen): This could have been so much better. With objective editing, with a firm hand and White’s Elements of Style, this could have been quite good. As it is, it had some nice elements, but, though pretty short, was a terrible slog to finish. (I was sleepless, and perversely persevered. Sorry, looks like it’s going to be that kind of day.)
The story begins with a boy in a wheelchair who discovers that he can fly when he finds himself doing so to save the life of a little girl he’s just met. He can’t walk, but he can fly, and he begins a sort of disabled-Superman existence, wearing armor as he flits around the neighborhood stopping evil-doers. The armor is partly so his Clark Kent persona will not be known, partly to intimidate the truly stupid and cowardly bad guys he chases off, and partly in case anyone takes a shot at him – though this is one of the places I sighed over the book, because the reason knights stopped bothering with armor was that bullets went through it.
Another sigh I sighed over that armor is that he went from finding out he could fly to, within a very short span of time, flying about with an additional 80-odd pounds added to his weight, and had no problem adjusting. Right.
And still another sigh came because he started wearing the armor when he was twelve, and was still wearing it – after considerable growth and muscular development – at twenty. I guess he was sort of swimming in it at twelve; maybe he really strapped himself in.
The biggest armor-related sigh, though, was more of a groan, and it wasn’t so much over his armor as his sword. Or, rather, the sword’s sheath. You see, one day the main character receives a sword in the mail, a claymore. He decides to go out and fly around with it, to play with it. Someone begins shooting arrows at him (and a friend). Once the shooting stops, he decides to go pick up “a few stray arrows”. “Scooping up the arrows, he stashed them in his sheath with his sword.”
A few arrows.
He stashed them in his sheath.
With his sword.
Which is not the sword he usually wears with that armor, but, as I mentioned, a claymore: far larger than the blade he usually wears with the armor. There was no mention of switching out the scabbard. So the bloody sword shouldn’t have fit all by itself. The sword plus “a few… arrows”? I wanted to slap someone.
I don’t even know what to say about the fact that the main character can stand, and can leap, and more than hold his own in a swordfight – but he is confined to a wheelchair because he can’t walk. Eventually some sort of nonsensical wisp of an explanation shows up, but it’s not good enough by a long mark. Of course, once the boy figures out he can fly (there’s no learning curve – he just flies) he starts leaving his wheelchair at the bottom of the staircase and levitates up to his bedroom, and then proceeds to float about getting himself ready for bed and suchlike. Hitherto, a servant had always had to carry him up, help him bathe and dress, and put him to bed. Does anyone – his grandfather, the household full of servants they start out with – notice?
I’m tired of cutting writers slack over grammatical and punctuation errors. There’s no need for them. None. Especially when there are two writers involved, as here. If you can’t tell that this is a bad sentence:
(from the first page) “The maid, Sarah, with her strong Scottish burr, patted him on his shoulder”;
“His eyes trained up the landmark tree”
Or that the commas are completely unnecessary in these fragments:
“sparse, blond hair”; “giant, brown eyes”; “the ugly, brown, wooden chair”;
Or that this makes no sense:
“Thompton’s visage stepped back”;
If you’re going to commit unintentional funnies like “the freedom of this new discovery [that he could fly] made his soul take flight”; or having the boy clench his fists and then three paragraphs later clench his jaw;
If you’re going to set your book in 1894 and talk about “personal space” and other 20th-21st century concepts (I’ll allow “ok” in 1894, but I still growled) –
Then I have no desire to read your work, and you should be ashamed of asking me to, much less asking me to pay 2.99 for it on Amazon. (To be clear, I myself was not asked to pay for this; it was a LibraryThing Member Giveaway book, and therefore free to me.) If you can’t be bothered with internal logic and worldbuilding, I can’t muster up too much enthusiasm for your work. As I’ve said a thousand times (or maybe just a few dozen), there are literally millions of other books out there. You have to earn my time and money. If I had paid for this I would be peeved; as it is, I regret the time put into it.
Oh. Oh dear. I was going to end there, but I figured I’d better check my facts and make sure this book was indeed self-published. It’s not. In fact, the publisher has a page titled “Why Shouldn’t I Just Self-Publish?”, which includes this statement: “We provide a team of experienced people who will help you with editing, artwork, promotion, and be there when you have a question. Because of your team, you can concentrate MORE on writing and less on editing, marketing, and all the rest of the work.” Oh my God. I had originally given this two stars – it just lost a star because of that.
(reviewed 32 days after purchase)