Saturday, August 25, 2018

''Book reviews'' of new sci-fi and cli-fi novels by non-professional authors can be tough. Read these snippets and look at them as a cautionary tale:

Book reviews can be tough. Read these snippets and look at them as a cautionary tale:

Her sci-fi cli-fi book is a dystopian novel based on potential consequences of unchecked climate change approximately 150 years from now. In this world,  she explores agricultural, political, military, civil, cultural – and notably disturbing climate scenarios – with obvious interest and attention to detail. While her imagining of this futuristic world is full throttle, his handling of the unfolding personal and family drama feels as yet underdevelopedThe blueprint is there for a complex and dynamic human interest story, but the main character, remains an over-conscious narrator of events, never allowing us to enter with her into the lived experience. ''

''I feel for the author -- it's never easy to hear criticism of one's work, but hopefully he can use it to make positive changes before taking his novel to a wider audience. Here are my thoughts. Please keep in mind that this is not a polished, publication-worthy review, just a few opinions after reading it:''

His novel contains some interesting concepts. The idea of a divided former USA and its political attitudes has potential for a futuristic thriller. However, the vision needs to improve its execution. My biggest concern is that the characters feel like cogs in the plotting wheel rather than unique personalities. There's a lot of stiff, expository dialogue intended to give readers background information. None of the characters have their depths revealed. The characters feel like staging pieces for the plot, and unfortunately the plot lacks cohesion as well. Instead of rising and falling action, it's a lot of tedious conversations punctuated by B-movie action sequences. The author should consider how his protagonist changes between the story's start and end, and shape the events around that arc. Perhaps he goes from being an insular academic to an outspoken advocate for a cause, or discovered that one of his core beliefs is misguided and adopts a different worldview. Lots of possibilities.''

''I'm sorry if my comments seem harsh. As a new author myself, I'm painfully familiar with many of the challenges the author faced in writing his  novel, and I empathize. My intentions here are purely constructive. I think the author has some promising ideas that will make solid story material; he just needs to refine his craft and incorporate those themes in a stronger narrative.''
''If you get many similar negative reviews and negative comments from other readers, you might suggest to the author that there's a consensus about his sci fi novel book having problems. Would be much better than getting a slew of bad reviews and ratings once the book is out. He's obviously serious about presenting alternative views of the future, and I'd hate to see him discouraged. But he needs to brush up on his botany as well as study about writing fiction. The book just does not work as it is. Sorry but that's my take.''
"While I appreciate the opportunity to read the book, and also appreciate the author's attempt to portray a future USA, I'm afraid that I won't be able to write a review. I post reviews only for books that I'm willing to recommend, and unfortunately this isn't one. After the first three chapters, I started skimming, hoping for some improvement, which took me through only a few more chapters before I had to give up.''

''While it's grammatically correct and seems to be thoroughly proofread, the author has made every possible beginner's mistake -- lack of characterization, too much telling instead of showing, massive info dump posing as conversation, unrealistic dialogue, poorly conceived concept of the results of such drastic climate change, unbelievable plot points, and unintentionally funny bits that border on parody. And it's massively boring.''

''I honestly don't know what kind of publisher would be willing to put out a book that's so obviously a first effort by someone who means well but has no concept of how a novel is written.''

''I'm sorry to have to be so harsh and I hope that the book is successful in spite of its flaws. 

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