I am three books complete in 4 days. Even for me that is a record. Unfortunately, however, it isn’t per se a sign of three great books that I couldn’t put down. There was one really goo, one mediocre, and one, well… read on and you can decide after reading the review.
A Slaughter of Angels by Matthew Angelo was, if nothing else, a quick read. In e-books, on my phone, it was only 319 pages. So, it was pretty short. I can’t decide if that should be in the “helped it” or “hurt it” column.
I feel like this particular book should be graded the way figure skating is (or was, I’m not really a fan of the sport so I am not sure which tense of that verb is accurate, but given that I am just trying to illustrate a point, it doesn’t really matter): one score for technical merit (aka, execution, grammar, etc.) and the other for artistic merit (aka, the story/plot). Because this is a book (or short story, since it really isn’t terribly long) that really suffers in one area but had such promise in the other. And where is suffers? It doesn’t just stumble a little. No, it flat out falls on its rear end and the routine never recovers. And yet, there was the potential to be so beautiful and graceful. Why the figure skating analogy, you might wonder. Because figure skating looks easy, but it is phenomenally difficult, takes tons of practice to get right, lots of coaching is absolutely necessary, it take a lot of courage to attempt some of those cra-zy jumps and spins and even those really, really good at the sport fall on their butts. A lot. That, to me, is the perfect analogy to writing a book. And the scoring system, with two scores, seems to be a good way to describe things here.
Here’s the way it really breaks down – there was just way too much of each of the following: grammatical mistakes, clunky sentences, choppy sentences, tense-mixing, typos, inconsistencies (from small to large) in the little aspects of the story or the plot itself, to have been an execution that score anywhere but “on its ass.” I counted nearly a dozen glaring issues (e.g., “to” instead of “too” – where earlier in the same sentence “too” was correctly used – yikes!) that were either typos or bad, bad, bad grammatical mistakes. Some of the more subtle grammatical issues were things like using the past tense and present tense in the same paragraph, which could be missed a little easier, but they still made reading the story a challenge. And then there were the inconsistencies that are typical of self-published works – where there is no (decent) editor: page 50 (of the iphone count epub) discussed the European clans of Nephilim and yet page 51 contains the following thought “[i]t would be arrogant of me to think I was the only Nephilim in the world.” The page before he was talking about clans of them. Clans. Yes, that word is plural. And that word typically indicates a number at least a little larger than one or two. Decent editing would have picked this up. Hell, decent story boarding would have picked up most of the issues like this.
And then there is the lack of development of anything that has any real meaning. The character tells us he is nervous and scared and that Axel (the Detective in the story) is angry and Axel only does XYZ when really pissed off… etc., but we have to take it all on face value. There is no supporting evidence for most of what the book is trying to lay out, and as a result, I never for a second felt invested in the story or any of the characters.
All of that is the really, really low technical score.
So, the logical question seems to be, why did I continue to read it? Well, the artistic merit had promise. I will tell you, because the idea of the paranormal, angel/demon detective is something I love. And the murder mystery? Well, lets just say that I was trying to fill a Castle size hole in my heart with something that sounded like it could be fun and Castle-like, even if it was without the Kate-Rick romance (oh, ABC, how I HATE you for cancelling my absolute favorite TV writer/detective and show, and I do so hope Nathan Fillion lands somewhere awesome so I can watch more of him). Throw in some paranormal, coupled with the essence that the cover had (another great example of things being off – the main character doesn’t have wings, but look at the cover!!!)? I was itchin’ for something good. The main character was sarcastic – but to his determent because it was over the top and the author was clearly trying to hard. And there was a whole lot of stuff that was set up for a finish that never really came. And the epilogue? It looks like a set up for more books, but while the overall idea is intriguing, unless the author can graduate from fan-fiction like writing (and not the sophisticated fan-fiction writing) and get some serious editing help, then I am not sure I can bear to read more about Rian MacCaren and his Midnight Agency, no matter how awesome the premise sounds because one really low score in each is enough for me.
p.s. if you are wondering about Midori Ito and why the comparison, I was specifically thinking of a particular fall, highlighted in this list of the best of figure skating falls: The 9 Most Epic Olympic Figure Skating Wipeouts Ever.