Sunday, January 16, 2011

Amanda Hocking; "Switched", "Torn, "Ascend"

In these three little novels, trolls exist (and we’re not talking the kind of troll you find on the internet trawling for attention…), they can pass for human except for their unique powers, and they are still switching out their babies for human ones as changelings where they are raised by rich families. The trolls are using humanity to sustain themselves. The troll changelings come of age and return to the Troll communities to bring their hefty inheritances home to fund the Troll communities that await them.

Wendy is such a changeling. She was raised by a mother that actually tried to kill her because she knew Wendy wasn’t hers. Sometime after her mother is placed in a mental institution and she becomes her aunt’s ward along with her brother, Wendy is astonished to discover she has a real mother who also happens to be Queen of the Troll ‘Trylle’ enclave. She discovers in book 1, that she is a princess and she has her own Tracker (protectors and servants of sort) named Finn with whom she finds herself enamoured., She also meets a human boy who turns out to be the foster-family’s child with whom she was switched. She also discovers that her new community over which she may reign someday is practicing traditions she’s ashamed of—and that she’s being hunted by another group of trolls from a different enclave known as the Vittra.

Wendy walks out of a difficult childhood into a confusing life with a mother who is cold and demanding, a future that is daunting and fraught with danger, and a bleak prospect for romance considering that trackers are untouchables to the royalty class.

These books are fun. I devoured them. I bought them with little hope for them being anything decent, but I was surprised. There is the taste of youth in the books, but they are not hideously written, and the writer has acquired the skill of drawing her readers in and keeping their attention. She does repeat phrases again and again sometimes, but her manuscripts are very well edited and clean, which is always a relief whenever I pick up an indie book. Thank you, Miss Hocking for being thoughtful and considerate to your readers.

The covers are wonderful in their simplicity and artfulness. I think they’re beautiful, and they don’t scream self-published like many others do. After a little poking about, it looks like Miss Hocking has a really great tact for being a prolific writer, for producing professional books, and for marketing herself nicely. She is actively managing a blog and website. It’s quite impressive, and I think a lot of indie authors could learn from what this young woman is doing. I think this girl has a strong chance of attracting attention from a traditional publisher.

There are some things about the books that do bother me, but that's likely because I'm not fourteen. The author's skill for description needs work, but that will come with more experience. These books read as very simple... the writing is basic. The stories are really fun and original... but these are definitely books for tweens and teens.

I give these books all a good, solid 4 medallions each -- I feel inclined to give one of them less than that, but I am rating them as a package. So 4 it is.