You know all those expressions about one door closing and another one opening, an event isn’t the end but the beginning of something new? Clearly who ever coined those expressions didn’t do it after reading something like Blackmoon Beginnings by Kaitlyn Hoyt. Never mind that this is “book 1” of the “Prophesized Series” (apparently out of 4 – Goodreads states the following about book 4: “Reaching Retribution is the fourth and final novel in the four-part Prophesized Series”), never mind that the cover is pretty cool and enticing, never mind that the story is pretty typical and unoriginal but yet still had some promise if written (and for fuck’s sake, edited) better, never mind that this is (at least) intended to only be four installments.
After finishing this book, this is a series where the beginning could have been the end, and that would have been ok with this reader.
I am starting to feel like a broken record. The strikes against: self-published, poorly edited, many grammatical issues, poor word choice, awkward dialogue, too much of the whole lack of self awareness by the main protagonist, everyone around the main protagonist is “hot”, what is very clearly a lack of maturity by the author, a number of jumps in the plot and jumps in the story (will explain how I am distinguishing shortly), and instant ability in self defense (and this particularly bugs me and pisses me off since I have nearly 20 years of martial arts training and I know that it takes practice – lots and lots of practice – to learn these things).
And I feel like a broken record because these seem to be such frequent observations on these YA books, especially ones that are written by folks that are just too young to have the requisite life experience to write and get spectacular results. I don’t mean to say that young authors can’t write well. But, like I have said before, most teenagers just don’t have the perspective or experience to fill the gaps around the fantasy with the necessary accurate realism to propel the writing from mediocre (or terrible) to wonderful.
The story here is that we have an young woman, who thinks she is ordinary, without a real family. She lives with her guardian who is absentee and she is about to graduate from high school. When all of a sudden, she finds she has magical powers. Said magical powers make her the subject of a prophecy that means she will save the world (or something like that). As a result, she just picks up and moves in with a random magical family. And of course, there is the potential for at least one love triangle. Oh, and there is the group of bad magicians out to get the good ones. There is a jealous ex-girlfriend for the guy our main protagonist is seemingly falling for (and all the teenage melodrama that goes with that). So, I think all the typical YA boxes are checked.
So, now what do I mean by jumps in the story versus jumps in the plot? It’s kind of like this: A plot jump would be if in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Harry had never found the mirror of erised but yet knew how it worked when confronted with Quirrell/Voldemort anyway and a jump in the story would have been the way the movie adapted the challenges that the trio went through to get to Quirrell (remember, in the book, they had Fluffy, the winged keys, the sun hating plant, the giant chess board, the sleeping Troll, the potions/logic challenge and the mirror; the movie only had Fluffy, the plant, the keys, the chessboard and the mirror); we still get to the same place without too much stress and while it would have been neat to see Hermoine logic through the potions it wasn’t necessary to the movie. But take away the scene where Harry learns how the mirror works, and stuff stops making sense.
Examples of the story jumping and plot jumping here: story jumping = Ryanne never explaining to Jane that she’s basically moved out of their house and in with Colton and his family. Plot jumping = Liam, the dreamwalking mage, and everything that goes along with how Ryanne meets him the first time and how he gives her his necklace. Story jumping = Ryanne’s instant ability to do all self-defense moves ever needed. Plot jumping = Dravin and the Gadramicks find her and Coltin’s family not once but twice and no one knows how. Some of these things can be glossed over and ignored. Others, it wasn’t so easy to just accept and ignore. And when you add the terrible dialogue between characters, and the totally unrealistic reactions of folks to each other, well, it was just a relief to get to the end of the book.
Given some time and experience, the author may develop and may end up with some well written stories she can add to her resume. But, in the mean time, I hope the author can invest in a thesaurus (acknowledging that every character is “hot” doesn’t solve the fact that describing them all in the exact same one dimensional way, with few words (really, one = “hot”), doesn’t make for fascinating reading) and maybe by the end of book four things will have improved enough to make reading this feel less painful and and I will not be so quick to associate words like “amateurish”, “undeveloped”, “naive” and “unimaginative” with the plot, character development, dialogue and overall story, respectively.