Donnie J Burgess
on June 6, 2015 :
Objectively, there is precious little plot to be found in the book. There are several intertwining stories but each lacks proper introduction, confrontation and conclusion. We are thrown into the middle of the each of the stories already at the confrontation, without any interest or attachment to the characters. Because the story bounces between the characters so frequently -there are 82 point of view changes: one per 3.5 pages- we never have time to empathize with the characters.
The author seems to be making the statement that we all have a mistake of youth, but the consequences vary greatly. I think that is why she felt it necessary to change character point of view every fourth page (that is not an exaggeration it is the actual math). As a reader, it is insulting that she thinks the story is so complex that it needs to be broken down so thoroughly to be understood. It simply isn't.
The story could have been very engaging and interesting if handled differently. The author chooses to throw you into the story at the moment of confrontation for all of the characters, without a bit of foreknowledge. She then bounces between the characters so frequently that you scarcely have time to learn any of their names, let alone their stories, before she bounces to the next group again. Frequently that bounce will be for only a few lines of absolutely unnecessary and clunky dialogue. If at least half of the point of view changes were removed, and the same amount of inane and useless dialogue was trimmed, the story would be much more engaging.
The sentence structure is often very hard to follow, the phrasing is very peculiar for the English language, and the grammar is atrocious. I'm not sure what portion of that is directly the fault of the author and what is the fault of the translator (which I would have guessed to be google translate, as bad as it is, were it not for an actual name being credited for translation). She wrote it in Italian and had it translated, but how could she know the quality of the translation if she doesn't read English?
Some of the writing is just painfully bad and I suspect that it has nothing to do with translation. The author uses the word 'had' as many as sixteen times on some pages. I wish I had a text file of the book to count uses of the word, I bet the number would be several thousand. In this example sentence she uses it five times, "Later they had talked, he had apologized and Futura had had to recognize that although she would have liked a best friend, Philip’s needs were completely different from hers, but she had not taken that into account at all." (Kindle Locations 1273-1275) That same sentence, disregarding punctuation and grammar, could have been written with only a single use, 'Later they talked, he apologized and Futura recognized that although she would have liked a best friend, Philip’s needs were completely different from hers, but she had not taken that into account at all.' A good copy editor, or even a bad copy editor, could have cleaned much of that up and made the story read a lot better.
The author categorizes A Mistake of Youth as both a Crime Thriller and a Psychological Thriller. It is neither of those things. When you put this book down, you will not think about it again for a second. Nothing happens to any of the characters that isn't described in the first few pages of the book, there are no surprises and the ending is more of an anti-climax. Imagine sitting on your front porch watching children play in the street for two hours. If you consider that a psychological thriller, then you will consider this book a psychological thriller.
Having said all that, the story could have been very engaging if an editor had stripped it to about half of its current length and removed a lot of the unnecessary dialogue. As it stands, it was interesting enough that I read it through, but not interesting enough that I would recommend it if it wasn't free.
See the full review on my website.
(review of free book)