CM Leal

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Smashwords book reviews by CM Leal

  • The Moon Dwellers on Nov. 28, 2012
    (no rating)
    **THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS** This was a difficult review to write. On one hand, there were things about the book that did not work for me, but there were also scenes and events that I really liked. I was also originally supposed to write the praise first followed by negatives like most of the reviews do, but I eventually decided to to it in reverse because HIPSTERS. So first off are the things that in my opinion needed more improvement: Show vs. Tell I feel that the book had been telling me things that had already been explained by showing. For example, early on I had been shown Cole losing his temper, and a few paragraphs after Cole would explain that he easily loses his temper. Both narrators would also tell me about the traits of their friends, and I think that it would have been more effective to show a character's traits without having to explain it to the reader. Pacing, sometimes I've read some reviews saying that the story started off slow. I also felt this way and I realized that it might be because I had to read a lot about the character's backstory in the first few pages of the book, when it would have been better, in my opinion, to accompany the backstory narration with a bit of action to move the plot forward. The explanations as to why their world is the way it was also happened late in the book. While I personally didn't have a problem reading through it, as it had been inserted in a chapter far enough that I have already invested in the characters and storyline, I feel that it would have been more effective spread throughout a couple of earlier chapters and not just dumped into one chapter. Worldbuilding I admit that I don't need extremely plausible and logical explanations to the worlds that authors create (Unwind is one of my favorite books, after all). Still, I did have some tiny gripes about the world. One that comes to mind right now is the "telebox", which had confused me until I realized that it was supposed to be a television, and then baffled me even more because, if I recall right, a television had been called a television ever since it became available to the public. I didn't feel that changing its name added to the futuristic setting (additionally, "tele" means "far" in Greek, so "telebox" would technically mean "farbox"). I also didn't understand why Tristan's bodyguards had been equipped with swords, when guns were clearly used in the realms. Redundancy I think some reviewers had already touched on this, so I'll just make this quick: I also feel that Adele and Tristan talked about their connection so often I had began to tire from hearing it. Character voice I usually read on my way to and from work, so oftentimes I would add a bookmark in the middle of the chapter. So I noticed that, when I opened the book again to continue reading, I often found myself wondering why Tristan was with Cole or why Adele was with Roc, until I realized that I wasn't reading Adele's chapter, I was reading Tristan's, and vice versa. It got me wondering why I often fall into this trap, and in my opinion it was because Tristan's and Adele's narration sound alike. I don't mean characterization; they clearly have traits unique to themselves. I think I had more of a problem with the voice. They stop a sentence the same way, emphasize things the same way, etc. My major gripe But beyond all that, I think the element that bothered me the most was not the narration, redundancy, or even the worldbuilding, but these two lines: "If he was a girl, I wouldn't care one bit, but for some reason with guys it is different. I always feel like I have to try to be equal to them, like I have something to prove." For me, these lines were very problematic because it told me that it didn't matter if I was as strong or as brave or as able as a man, I still have to prove that I am better than him for the sole reason that he had been born male. This implied that males, on the sole basis of their sex, are the standard that women need to reach, that they are not strong until a male recognizes them, until they are "equal" to males, when the sex a person's been born with should not be the sole basis for considering one as an equal at all. Also, it would not have bothered me that much if this wasn't written for a young adult audience in mind, but since it was written for people at a stage where many of them are easily influenced, it is a very problematic idea to put into a person's head. Okay! Now that I've got the nasty stuff out of the way, time for the positives! Characters: I feel that there were a lot of good scenes in the book, particularly the one that made me warm up to Adele: When she mentioned that she broke down alone in her cell after she fought with two prisoners. It made me feel connected to her, and it showed a vulnerable side to her that made me relate to. I also appreciate that the author made her a strong female character. Not that I'm adverse to weak female leads (as long as they become stronger eventually), but I always enjoy reading a kick-ass girl who actually does the saving sometimes. Tristan was also a pretty good character overall. Personally, what I got from his character was that he initially wanted to run away just to be free of his very controlling father (something that teenagers can completely relate to), and maybe also Adele, but mostly because of his father. Along the way, though, he began to genuinely see the injustice all around and began to truly rebel. Now I'm not sure if the author intended him to be that way, but that was how I saw him. And if not, well then, some of the breakthroughs in history were created by accident! :) Cole's backstory: I love angst and I cannot lie, and Cole's background story I felt was tragic and it really grabbed at me. I think that it explained a lot about Cole and why he wanted to join Adele and Tawny, gave him depth, and it made me feel for him as a character more. Roc: Roc deserves a category all on his own because he is Roc and he is awesome. He was absolutely endearing to me! Funny, scared, sometimes pissy even if he got himself into all that trouble, but a true and loyal friend nonetheless. Seriously, he was adorable! I love every bit he was in; I felt that he lit up each scene. And "You can still call me Rocky" made me laugh irl. So in summary, Roc is awesome. Action and pacing: I know I just wrote pacing as one of what I think were the weaker aspects of this novel, but there were times wherein I thought that the pacing was just right. I personally liked the pacing during the action scenes, because they were fast and full of, well, action. It kept me turning the page in anticipation for what would happen to the characters. And the story, overall, was very quick-paced. I feel that the author made a good choice telling it in first-person, present-tense, because as with action-filled books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the sense of urgency that first-person present-tense narration can provide added to the page-turning quality of this book. So all in all, although I had some gripes about some aspects of the book, I did find parts of this book enjoyable. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fast-paced, action-filled, post-apocalyptic dystopian read with kickass heroines and genuinely good heroes (who also happen to be hot ;P).
  • The Moon Dwellers on Nov. 28, 2012
    star star
    THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! This was a difficult review to write. On one hand, there were things about the book that did not work for me, but there were also scenes and events that I really liked. I was also originally supposed to write the praise first followed by negatives like most of the reviews do, but I eventually decided to to it in reverse because HIPSTERS. So first off are the things that in my opinion needed more improvement: Show vs. Tell I feel that the book had been telling me things that had already been explained by showing. For example, early on I had been shown Cole losing his temper, and a few paragraphs after Cole would explain that he easily loses his temper. Both narrators would also tell me about the traits of their friends, and I think that it would have been more effective to show a character's traits without having to explain it to the reader. Pacing, sometimes I've read some reviews saying that the story started off slow. I also felt this way and I realized that it might be because I had to read a lot about the character's backstory in the first few pages of the book, when it would have been better, in my opinion, to accompany the backstory narration with a bit of action to move the plot forward. The explanations as to why their world is the way it was also happened late in the book. While I personally didn't have a problem reading through it, as it had been inserted in a chapter far enough that I have already invested in the characters and storyline, I feel that it would have been more effective spread throughout a couple of earlier chapters and not just dumped into one chapter. Worldbuilding I admit that I don't need extremely plausible and logical explanations to the worlds that authors create (Unwind is one of my favorite books, after all). Still, I did have some tiny gripes about the world. One that comes to mind right now is the "telebox", which had confused me until I realized that it was supposed to be a television, and then baffled me even more because, if I recall right, a television had been called a television ever since it became available to the public. I didn't feel that changing its name added to the futuristic setting (additionally, "tele" means "far" in Greek, so "telebox" would technically mean "farbox"). I also didn't understand why Tristan's bodyguards had been equipped with swords, when guns were clearly used in the realms. Redundancy I think some reviewers had already touched on this, so I'll just make this quick: I also feel that Adele and Tristan talked about their connection so often I had began to tire from hearing it. Character voice I usually read on my way to and from work, so oftentimes I would add a bookmark in the middle of the chapter. So I noticed that, when I opened the book again to continue reading, I often found myself wondering why Tristan was with Cole or why Adele was with Roc, until I realized that I wasn't reading Adele's chapter, I was reading Tristan's, and vice versa. It got me wondering why I often fall into this trap, and in my opinion it was because Tristan's and Adele's narration sound alike. I don't mean characterization; they clearly have traits unique to themselves. I think I had more of a problem with the voice. They stop a sentence the same way, emphasize things the same way, etc. My major gripe But beyond all that, I think the element that bothered me the most was not the narration, redundancy, or even the worldbuilding, but these two lines: "If he was a girl, I wouldn't care one bit, but for some reason with guys it is different. I always feel like I have to try to be equal to them, like I have something to prove." For me, these lines were very problematic because it told me that it didn't matter if I was as strong or as brave or as able as a man, I still have to prove that I am better than him for the sole reason that he had been born male. This implied that males, on the sole basis of their sex, are the standard that women need to reach, that they are not strong until a male recognizes them, until they are "equal" to males, when the sex a person's been born with should not be the sole basis for considering one as an equal at all. Also, it would not have bothered me that much if this wasn't written for a young adult audience in mind, but since it was written for people at a stage where many of them are easily influenced, it is a very problematic idea to put into a person's head. Okay! Now that I've got the nasty stuff out of the way, time for the positives! Characters: I feel that there were a lot of good scenes in the book, particularly the one that made me warm up to Adele: When she mentioned that she broke down alone in her cell after she fought with two prisoners. It made me feel connected to her, and it showed a vulnerable side to her that made me relate to. I also appreciate that the author made her a strong female character. Not that I'm adverse to weak female leads (as long as they become stronger eventually), but I always enjoy reading a kick-ass girl who actually does the saving sometimes. Tristan was also a pretty good character overall. Personally, what I got from his character was that he initially wanted to run away just to be free of his very controlling father (something that teenagers can completely relate to), and maybe also Adele, but mostly because of his father. Along the way, though, he began to genuinely see the injustice all around and began to truly rebel. Now I'm not sure if the author intended him to be that way, but that was how I saw him. And if not, well then, some of the breakthroughs in history were created by accident! :) Cole's backstory: I love angst and I cannot lie, and Cole's background story I felt was tragic and it really grabbed at me. I think that it explained a lot about Cole and why he wanted to join Adele and Tawny, gave him depth, and it made me feel for him as a character more. Roc: Roc deserves a category all on his own because he is Roc and he is awesome. He was absolutely endearing to me! Funny, scared, sometimes pissy even if he got himself into all that trouble, but a true and loyal friend nonetheless. Seriously, he was adorable! I love every bit he was in; I felt that he lit up each scene. And "You can still call me Rocky" made me laugh irl. So in summary, Roc is awesome. Action and pacing: I know I just wrote pacing as one of what I think were the weaker aspects of this novel, but there were times wherein I thought that the pacing was just right. I personally liked the pacing during the action scenes, because they were fast and full of, well, action. It kept me turning the page in anticipation for what would happen to the characters. And the story, overall, was very quick-paced. I feel that the author made a good choice telling it in first-person, present-tense, because as with action-filled books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the sense of urgency that first-person present-tense narration can provide added to the page-turning quality of this book. So all in all, although I had some gripes about some aspects of the book, I did find parts of this book enjoyable. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fast-paced, action-filled, post-apocalyptic dystopian read with kickass heroines and genuinely good heroes (who also happen to be hot ;P).