Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lauren Burd; "Immortal"

The gift of a B&N Nook has been both a gift and a bane, because I find myself reading fifty times more than I used to; and my free time is already so limited. ::sigh:: I also tend to browse the nookbooks and buy whatever suits my fancy, since the nookbooks are so cheap and so easy to breeze through.

Immortal is one of four books I’ve read by independent authors that I’ve decided to do non-queried reviews on. The next three books will be done in one post because they are all three in one series. I already had an idea that Immortal would be very closely aligned to the Twilight saga. The story reflected much of Bella’s story.

* Pale, seemingly complicated heroine who has no idea how incredibly beautiful and attractive she really is, and thinks herself quite ordinary and plain against her friends [check]

* Parental relationship problems [check]

* Irresistible to supernatural creatures. [check]

* Misunderstanding and lack of communication. [check]

* Rivals fighting over her (what girl in her late teens and early twenties doesn't fantasize about that?). [check]

* Sudden threat appears in middle of book. [check]

There are some efforts to make this story its own ‘being’ so to speak, to separate itself from the collection of what is essentially Twilight fan-fic flooding the nookbook and kindle lists. It’s a tolerable story that I was compelled to read, so it shows that the author knows how to tell a story… and she knows how to draw in a reader. As independent books go, it's really readable. Like the three books to follow this review, I devoured it. That’s good, especially coming from me, considering that if a book doesn’t draw me in by the first few pages, I’ll huck it aside and forget about it. I’ll sometimes grudgingly drag myself through some particularly bad books, but rarely. If I already feel like I’m going to rip it to shreds with a scathing review, I’ll forget about it.

But what Miss Hurd has done that does make me bristle, is that she published something that was not polished or ready for publication. And this is my usual gripe about independent books… Authors… GET AN EDITOR! God damn it! It can take a good book and bring it down to nothing if you don’t have it polished. I don’t care what you do, take it to an old professor, do SOMETHING, but have it proofread. I simply despise reading along and coming along a ridiculous error that immediately ruins the experience. The flow of the writing is instantly marred when I come across typos, bad grammar (this is really irritating to me… the use of apostrophes is really not so complex as it cannot be learned), misused words, overly-repeated phrases and descriptions, and inconsistencies. It is my biggest pet peeve and it should be one of the primary considerations before anyone decides to hit that ‘submit’ button on PubIt!.

As for the story… well, I think the author needs to work a bit harder on adding a smidge more sophistication to her work, but I really cannot find too much fault with her writing in general. Sure she repeats a lot, sure it’s simplistic, as is most YA material… but it can be simple and still have a tiny shred of maturity to it. Also she should go back and secure the services of a good, experienced editor… and she should work harder to try to keep her story original. I imagine if Miss Burd was writing something that wasn’t based on the standard framework of the vampire teeny-angsty book, her writing style with some originality could really take her places.

I also am feeling a bit cheated. Miss Burd showed some promise at the beginning of her book, hinting at a complex relationship between Alina and her mother. It was the sort of thing I hoped the whole thing would be framed around… her choices, her reactions, her behaviours, influenced by her mother’s abandonment of her. But I was very disappointed. She never expanded upon it once she hinted at it. I wanted to know why they were not getting along—and how that affected Alina’s choices. It's like as soon as Alina left she completely forgot about her except to mention her a bit during one conversation. It was not explained at all, and I think it would have added some serious depth to what is a fluffy story otherwise. Her relationship with her father also… very vague.

I know it’s hard to juggle a lot of characters… and that’s something all independent and new authors have to think about. If you connect people with too many relationships, it’s impossible to carry them all through the story. You have to just drop people, and keep the story going, and leave the reader wondering what the hell happened to them. You should not invest your readers in someone, and then just forget about them.

This could be an excellent story if she took it down from web-sale, and sat down on a nice, warm weekend, and started padding out some of the bones of the story, adding some complexity to her characters, giving them depth and motivations, and raising it a level from the rest of the chaff. She could also work on padding out the brief encounters with the hero, so that the love that they feel for one another is actually based on more than a few chance encounters and chemistry (which the heroine seems to share with more than one fellow through the story) She could really do it too, because her writing is actually quite good.

This is why I’m not going to give the book a bad rating. It isn’t a bad book… it just needs more work. Four medallions.