I have reached the end of my Alphabet Challenge! Whoop whoop, crack out the champagne!
I’d love to be able to gush over my final, Z book, but that’s unfortunately not possible. There were very slim pickings for the final letter of the alphabet. It took about three searches to find something suitable on Amazon, and having plumped for Z (The Abilities Series) by Lizzy Gomez (I mean: look at all those Zs!) I was determined to get to the end of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have bothered, but as a writer it’s sometimes useful to articulate what exactly is the matter with books I don’t like.
I was, frankly, amazed when I reached the acknowledgements to read that Z had been professionally edited. I can’t imagine what it must have been like before that. The best I can say is that it read like a book I was reading for a friend prior to revisions and editing. It was a complete story with a beginning, middle and end, and on a sentence level it was okay (so I’m guessing the editor was hired for a copy edit, not the content edit it so dearly needed). It was so flawed I would highly recommend a competent, professional content/structural edit and a re-issue.
For example (and I’ll cut this down or I’ll be here forever):
- This was pitched as a fantasy. It started in the contemporary world and took far too long to introduce any fantasy elements.
- Toby was lovely, but he was also a complete cliché. Many of the characters were flimsy, only there because the plot required it, and lacked any real depth or motivations.
- When we finally got there, the fantasy world was completely unrealistic. If you say it approximates the 14th century, you’re going to have to make it somewhat like the 14th century. Just having long dresses and knights won’t cut it if people speak in 21st century slang, drink tea, eat sandwiches and feed sugar lumps to their horses.
- While we’re on the subject of slang – the heroine spoke entirely in modern slang and swearing, neither of which made her an appealing character. There was an f-bomb probably once every two pages.
- There were far too many exclamation marks!!!! All the way through!!!!
- The heroine knew everything and could do everything and everyone else was wrong/stupid/both.
- And much of the novel was just plain weird. (Spoiler alert): someone tries to kill our heroine (frankly, I’d have been relieved if they’d managed it and the story had ended there, but still…), she fights him off by using her magical powers to fix some unspecified “darkness” she finds when she pokes around inside his head? soul? not sure. After this he’s immediately cured of his murderous tendencies, and the heroine knows she’s safe with him and everyone who doubts the fact is an idiot – and to round off the scene, the would-be killer’s sister doesn’t ask any questions about what’s just happened, but simply says: hey, thanks.
Pah. Get a content/structural editor, writers. You are giving independent authors a bad name by not doing so – and more to the point, you are doing a disservice to your STORY. This could have been a good story, but its potential was entirely wasted. I think the author probably doesn’t care as she’s merrily gone on to write a sequel, and that would be fine if she were writing for herself/her mom/her children. But to expect other people to pay money for this? That’s an entirely different matter. I expect professionalism as an absolute basic, and I didn’t find it in the pages of Z.
And that crabby snipe ends my Alphabet Reading Challenge. It’s been a fun 26 weeks. Check back next week to see what has risen to the top of my TBR pile now that I don’t have a thing to read!