Holds a lot of promise
I plan on reading more of this, as the concept of the book is thrilling, and the characters in The Penman come alive before you. The plot progresses smoothly at a nice clip. The author has a knack for giving you just enough to leave you wanting more, and wondering about this world of hers that she has created! However, there are a few plot holes and discrepancies that could use some work.
Read the story now
In the world J has created, people have suddenly lost their ability to read (I suspect through the digestion of a "flu pill"). The thing that doesn't work with this is, they all seem to lose it at the same time, at the same rate. I think it would be a more effective, believable story if people lost the ability to read at different rates. Even if they are all taking the pill that causes them to lose those facilities, their bodies will absorb the toxins differently as they are all biologically different. There were also a few moments where I became lost in the narration. The narration added depth and promise to the story, but I felt it was a lot of (sometimes unnecessary) information at once, that could have been used to progress the main character, Delilah, and the supporting ones. So to me as a reader it broke me from J's world and seemed to me to be a missed opportunity. There were a few other moments where I was snapped from the story, mostly due to the sudden shifts in time.
Overall this is a pretty remarkable first draft, and I'm definitely going to read more, but the book could still use a little fine tuning before it's ready to be published!