by David Kubicek – This book is the first in a trilogy and is, I believe, his first full-length published novel. Certainly he is no novice, with numerous short stories and 5 non-fiction books under his belt, but his bio does not list any other fiction books. The publications credit is to his own publication company, so I don’t know if the novel went through an agent or an outside editor before it was printed. Normally, it wouldn’t occur to me to check that detail, but there were parts of the book where I thought it needed a really good editor’s attention, and I wondered whose hands the book passed through on its way to publication.
This novel has sections that work really well and clunky sections that don’t so much. For example, Kubicek has chosen to use multiple POV characters, which is a technique I generally enjoy, however he switches POV so frequently that I had trouble forming a firm opinion about or feel for the characters. In fact, it wasn’t until about page 140 (of 326) that the story took on any urgency for me. Normally, I would not finish a book if I had not “engaged” with the main characters much earlier in the novel, but I found the premise interesting enough to stick to it.
The story focuses on a young woman with amnesia after a traumatic attack in which she was beaten and her father was killed, a young woman who we quickly figure out is not a normal human at all. The woman, Wendy, has forgotten that she isn’t normal and doesn’t realize for about half of the book that she is an android, albeit one with an independent intelligence and emotions and desires and sorrows. In fact, in all but her body, she is as human as anyone in the book. Unfortunately for Wendy, there are bad people who suspect she isn’t normal and they will stop at nothing to capture her and find out her secrets. In that pursuit, no one is safe, not even the people closest to Wendy.
I wanted so much to love this book, especially after the author chose me to read and review a free copy, but I kept getting pulled out of the story by the writing itself and had trouble reimmersing myself in it. There were typos and grammatical errors that nagged at me, things I was sure would/should have been caught by a line editor. There were scenes that just didn’t work, such as the one where Jared is put into a cell with Aaron, but the entire capture is left to a paragraph’s worth of awkward dialogue. There was dialogue that felt melodramatic and false, such as, well, about half of the things Vaughn (the antagonist) said. The timeline wasn’t clear, possibly because the action of the book, which covers a period from May to December of 1983, was divided into only three timeblocks, each of which had many very short chapters or numbered sections. The ending of the book felt rushed, with the fallout brushed over. For example, Lyn’s reaction to Jared’s death is almost nonexistent and not in keeping with her emotional makeup as established earlier in the novel. And the final paragraph just didn’t make sense, from a narrative standpoint. It felt like this book’s equivalent of the heroes riding off into the sunset, with hints that we might have more of their adventures heading our way later… in other words, it was cliché and unnecessary. Perhaps Kubicek just wasn’t sure how he wanted to say “The end.”
I’m hoping book 2 in the series will go through a different editor than this one did, someone who can help Kubicek identify the book’s weaknesses before it goes to press, so that the story can shine through. He owes it to himself – and to his readers – to take that extra step. (finished 7/7/11)
I received a copy of this book free from the author as the result of a Goodreads.com giveaway.