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Hearts of Silver

While the plot, world, and characters are mostly engaging, this novel struggles with its writing style and grammar. A fun, interesting read.

A more thorough critique will be posted as comments rather than as a review, as paragraph breaks don’t tend to translate well into reviews.

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Amulets of Sihr

This was a fun, interesting read. The worldbuilding was a little heavy-handed at times, and the prose often bulky but ornate, and I wish the author spent more time on the minor characters. The plot, however, was fascinating and drew me in. A good read, although in need of some polishing.

A more thorough critique will be posted as comments rather than as a review, as paragraph breaks don’t tend to translate well into reviews.

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The King of Death

This was such a good read. The plot and characters easily pulled me in. One thing that irritated me about the characterization: I wish Astrid had a larger role other than getting pregnant. She’s such a strong character. I would have liked to see more involvement of Katja, as well.

A couple historical things: Carthage first fell to the Romans in 146 BC, long before the events here. By 400 AD, Christianity was growing rapidly in the Roman Empire and had supplanted the traditional Roman gods. Vikings, as they were known, existed starting in the late 700s. As such, the Carthaginians, pagan Romans, and Vikings would not have existed at the same time as each other. I don’t know how historically accurate you want this novel to be, but I thought I’d mention it. I’m not a historian, so I probably didn’t catch all the historical errors throughout. Even so, I was able to suspend my disbelief.

That said, the descriptions of the cultures and religions were incredible. I can see the amount of research that went in. It felt real.

There were minor grammar errors throughout, including semicolon, comma, apostrophe, and general punctuation errors.

There were several places where you switch from first person to third person and vice versa. Third person is clearly your strong point, but I can see why the first person sections were necessary. Try to have each point of view in separate chapters, so that it feels intentional and not just like you’re floundering between the points of view. So you would have a chapter in Astrid’s POV (third limited), one in Arvid’s (again, third limited), and then one in Mikkel’s (first person). That way, readers won’t be confused. Maybe the entire first section could be from Olaf's third person point of view? I'm not really sure. At the end of the day, it's up to you.

There were minor usage errors throughout, especially concerning prepositions. Ex: It should be “weary from” not “weary of,” “bent” not “bended,” etc. “I was wholly ill equipped of becoming” should be “I was wholly ill equipped to become.” There was some confusion in spellings as weell, and some similar-sounding words were mismatched. “raised” vs “razed,” “decent” vs “descend” vs “dissent” etc.

There were tense switches throughout. I’d suggest sticking to past tense.

Your descriptions are excellent and well done. The style is slightly stilted, however, especially in the first few chapters. In the first few chapters, there were sections where you switched abruptly from scene to summary, even during a section of dialogue. This lessened in the second section. Overall, your style really improved throughout the course of the novel.

In general, when writing this type of fantasy novel, stay with more formal phrases and avoid curses in dialogue, such as “fuck.” It’s just a standard of the genre to use words like “fainted” instead of the more colloquial “passed out.” Most of your novel does follow those rules, but there were places where it didn’t. There’s not really a reason for why it should follow these rules, only that other novels in the genre tend to follow them.

The end of chapter 15 had a very strange section where Mikkel was written about in the third person. The last paragraph of the chapter treated him once more as a first person narrator, though. It was strange.

Split long paragraphs. An average book page is 250 words. The point of paragraphs is to split ideas so that they are more easily digestible. If a paragraph is longer than a page, you’re doing something wrong.

“They say that the road to Asgard is paved with good intentions.” I love this line, but it detracts from the overall tone of the piece.

“What the fuck just happened? If you pardon my Latin.” Again, I love this line. but it detracts from the overall tone of the piece.

Your acknowledgements section didn’t acknowledge anyone other than yourself, so I’m not sure what the point of it is. Please don’t explain themes to your readers. It’s insulting our intelligence.

Again, I loved reading this, and I hope my review doesn’t make you think otherwise. The plot was strong, the characters were lifelike, and the setting was immersive. The only issues I truly had with this was the writing style, and even then, there was nothing majorly wrong with it, just several minor mistakes that built up. With a proper proofreader, this could be incredible.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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Keep Your Promises

This story had a decent start, but it could still use some polishing. Further critique will be posted as a comment, to avoid spoiling future readers.

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My Sister's Keeper

I loved reading this. It left me unsettled for hours after I finished.

CHARACTERS:

Out of all the characters, Yuhlman didn’t feel real to me. His lines were cheesy and stilted, and his character was both oddly attached and oddly detached to Kate and the other events of the novel, if that makes any sense. Kate’s archery didn’t feel that realistic, either. Archers do need to read the wind in order to accurately aim and fire. Kate was able to shoot accurately even without practice, which I find rather difficult to believe. The nickname “Nugget” felt awkward as well, although “harpy” didn’t. I’m not sure why. Other than that, though, the characterization throughout the novel was incredible.

PLOT:

I would have liked a little more closure at the end. I understand the need for an open ending -- in fact, it’s the only kind of ending a story like this can support -- but such an open ending made it feel almost unfinished.The only way to end it is through the sisters’ reconciliation, and I understand that, but… Maybe if Kate had met her mother once before reconciling with Marley, it would have worked better? But maybe not. I don’t know.

STYLE:

In a couple places, you say something like, “She suddenly felt a bit sad,” and other such descriptions of feelings, and I felt that those feelings would be better implied that simply stated. Similarly, sentences such as, “Perhaps that fact sunk in for both, because neither bothered to discuss the various crimes they had committed against one another,” also felt a bit forced and unsubtly handled for the genre. Overall, though, this was gorgeously written. I loved every minute of it.

(Side note: My Sister's Keeper is the name of a bestselling novel by Jodi Picoult and already has a movie. If I were you, I might consider changing the title).

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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Doorstepped

Overall, this was a decent read, although dialogue-heavy. The characters were simplistic but well-defined and the plot straightforward but lacking complexity.

CHARACTERS:

Hayley doesn’t have that much of a personality. She wants to take care of her mother, sure, but other than that, her only trait is sarcasm, and sarcasm isn’t really a personality trait. This might just be because we don’t see her thoughts -- most of the novel so far consists of pure dialogue, leading to a lack of complexity. Elliot, too, feels like a stilted character. He drops in at a friend’s house from a decade ago, without warning, and expects everything to be okay? In his place, I would be feeling incredibly guilty for imposing myself on another family like that. He judges Hayley’s friends without knowing anything about them and tries to “fix” Hayley at first sight without knowing anything about what she’s been through for all the years he’s been gone. He exists solely for the sake of the plot and not as a human in his own right. Elliot infuriates me, especially since Hayley’s friends aren’t horrible people. They want her to loosen up and have fun. What’s wrong with that? Do they judge her mom? A bit, but no friend is ever perfect. They aren’t emotionally abusing her, from what I can tell, and their relationships aren’t so toxic that it’s a problem. All that being said, your dialogue is well-written and seems natural. The character relationships seemed natural as well. Well done on that account.

PLOT:

Overall, the plot is simplistic. Not much happens in fifty pages. The chapters feel short, as they’re dialogue heavy. So far, I can see only two main events: (1) Hayley goes/is going to this party, and (2) this random family friend from however-long-ago showed up at Hayley’s front door and is also going to that party. Two main events for fifty pages is not a lot. Again, this is mainly because your chapters are so dialogue-heavy that there isn’t space for the story to move forward. Perhaps you’ve heard of the writing maxim, “Show, don’t tell”? It’s not always true. A little summary here and there can go a long way in giving the readers a breath of fresh air and speeding up the pace of the novel. One question: Why is the genre categorized as “Humor”? I don’t see any humor here. I just see a romance/drama.

STYLE:

Again, because this story is so dialogue-heavy, there’s not much I can say about your writing style. It lacks details. I would like to see more descriptions of your characters’ surroundings, of their physical characteristics, of their thoughts and emotions. Stories aren’t built from dialogue. They’re built from characters, and characters are so much more than the words they say. Your non-dialogue sections are well-written. Use more of them. Grammatically, your dialogue tag punctuation isn’t the best. When you have a tag such as “he remarked” or “she said,” the tag connects to the dialogue with a comma, not a period. If the tag is after the dialogue, the tag isn’t capitalized. “She’s had enough of that,” I told him. Not: “She’s had enough of that.” I told him. “It’s normal to want to protect her,” he said. Not: “It’s normal to want to protect her.” He said.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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Ellsmire

Overall, this was an interesting, engaging story. I would have liked more active, consistent characters, especially in the beginning, but other than that I enjoyed the read.

CHARACTERS:

The characters did not appear to drive the plot until Griffin ran away at the end. Because of this, I felt as though I didn’t understand the characters enough. Characterization forms when distinctive character actions create the illusion of a real person. Because Ava, Griffin, and Matthew/Kieran did not fully act of their own will and did not influence the plot very much due to their actions, I felt as though I didn’t know them. If you had taken another character and let them stand in for Ava or Griffin -- say if Tara and Ava had switched character traits -- would the story have changed very much? I don’t think so, because so much of it is out of Ava’s control. She goes where she’s told without thinking too much about it, and because her passivity isn’t a source of inner conflict, the story becomes dull.

The siblings’ character traits/beliefs were inconsistent as well. Ava thinks that the Phoenix legend is impossible, but also thinks that all Acians are horrible by nature. Is she gullible or isn’t she? People who believe one myth will generally accept other myths, especially myths as related as the Phoenix and the Acian legends (or, in the case of our world, people generally believe in a full religion without cherry-picking from various religions, unless they have a strong inner moral compass that allows them to cherry-pick, which Ava doesn’t seem to have). Be consistent with characters’ moral compasses, because right now I don’t believe in their characters.

Here’s a trick: If you have a conversation between three or more characters, and you delete all the dialogue tags, can an interested reader pick out who is saying what based on the dialogue alone? If not, you may need to work on your dialogue. Right now, it’s not as distinctive as it could be, and it’s not as subtle as it could be.

I expected more of a difference when Matthew became Kieran, but they seemed like exactly the same person. Kieran really doesn’t act like a bad person. The only thing you mention him doing wrong is sleeping with Tara (while two others were sleeping with her), but I don’t see how that makes him a horrible human being, as long as everything was consensual. He says he’s a jerk but I don’t see it. Everything he’s done suggests otherwise.

PLOT:

The beginning felt a little rushed. Maybe you should add a scene or two more of status quo in the beginning before getting into the meat of the story.

How does Ava get on that boat in the end? It’s not like she’s carrying money on her. Does she stow away?

Other than that, though, I saw no overall problems.

WORLD/SETTING:

What time period does this take place in? The new ones take place in 1965, but cameras and cars were fairly commonplace by 1965, yet they aren’t used. Instead, Ava and Griffin have a portrait taken of them (which is somehow distributed in the newspapers), and travel by coach. DNA/blood tests of the caliber needed to distinguish between Alexian and Acian blood wouldn’t have existed by that time (basic DNA testing was invented in 1984), especially since Alexia and Acia are sisters and would have been very close genetically. In fact, I doubt today’s technology would be able to distinguish between their lines. The general medical knowledge of the book was more advanced than 1965 as well. Other than temporal inconsistencies, however, I felt that you understood your world, and I was immersed enough in it.

STYLE:

In the first chapter, the dialogue seems stilted enough that I almost wanted to put this down. I’m glad I stayed with it -- halfway through the first chapter, the dialogue evens out and the writing style becomes more smooth, and that clean style stays through the rest of the book -- but the beginning of the first chapter was a trial. Overall, this was a nice read.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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Ironwood

Wow. This is amazing. As an avid reader of fantasy, I enjoyed this immensely. Characterization was lovely, the plot was intriguing, and the world well-developed. Stylistically, this was fairly clean as well, with few grammatical errors. I want to read the second one, so please let me know once you write it. In all honesty, I think this is publishable.

CHARACTERS:

All the characters were very well-developed. Jacob, as a main character, felt almost too perfect to be real. He lacks convincing flaws. Meanwhile, Ceann had very little to recommend him. Every human should have a commendable aspect, and he had none, making Athena’s interest in him unbelievable. Other than that, I saw no real problems with characterization.

PLOT:

The prologue seemed extraneous. Deleting it will cost you nothing and will help you gain clarity. Then, the first section of Chapter 1, one of the few sections (the only section?) in Francis’s point of view could become your prologue.

STYLE:

While fantasy authors such as Robin Hobb and Juliet Marillier do tend to use a lot of summary, they still don’t info-dump. Do not infodump in fantasy. Longtime readers of the genre, such as myself, expect to be thrust into the world with little information, and trust that everything will fall into place eventually. Incorporate the history of your world more gradually into the story and trust in your readers. Never underestimate a reader’s intelligence. Always underestimate their knowledge. There were a few grammatical errors throughout, but nothing that a good proofreader couldn’t fix.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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The Contest

Overall, this was a fairly well-written story with an amusing plot. The characters could have been a little more well-developed, as could the setting. Stylistically, it was fairly clean. An enjoyable read.

CHARACTERS:

Eemay is beautiful. She’s also fairly intelligent, seeing as she knew how to resolve Scott’s issues. Fairly kind as well, as she’s involved with those charities, but that might simply be due to her responsibilities as a princess. I never felt like I truly understood her. Scott, on the other hand, is the Perfect Nice Guy. The scene where he interacts with the kids was really cute. He lacks complexity, though. Hugh, as well, lacked complexity. I never believed Eemay’s attraction to him. Why did he want to marry Eemay in the first place? He’s the only son, so there wasn’t a power struggle in which he needed the upper hand. Unless he just wanted to marry her for her beauty? Try making that more clear. The name Mycroscott sounds like Microsoft. Also Hughchube sounds like Youtube. Eemay sounds either like Ebay or email -- I can’t decide which. Cyberia sounds like Siberia. Vilelet sounds like Violet except more vile. I loved the names in general. They made me laugh. Your dialogue was pretty unrealistic throughout. In general, dialogue should mimic natural speech, albeit be more concise, pointed, and clear. None of your characters became more developed as the story went on, but that’s more due to the genre than due to your lack of capability. Overall, I would have liked a little more realism in your characters, and a little more humor stemming from that realism.

PLOT:

The plot was fairly simplistic. There were no subplots explored to truly bring the story to life. The pacing was rushed. Overall, though, it was enjoyable.

WORLD/SETTING:

I’d like to see a little more clarity of where/when this takes place. Is it in some sort of alternate universe with similar technology? Magic seems very well-known as a field. I would have liked to see more magic in the beginning of the novel, just so that when it becomes a plot point it doesn’t jar the readers. Because the introduction to magic was so sudden, Eemay’s reaction to Scott’s becoming a dog felt unrealistic -- I wouldn’t have believed the dog at all. But in a world familiar with magic, it would make a lot more sense.

STYLE:

You switched tenses throughout. I would have liked a little more description as well, just to flesh out the world. In the first chapter, the style switches from more of a pure fantasy to more of a young adult style, and that switch was jarring. Overall, it felt very rushed. Take your time. Relax. Spend less time describing clothes and more time describing people. Humor can arise out of the ordinary, if you let it.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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Vestige

Wow, this was a good read. I think it’s more of a thriller/action than a horror/action, but that might just be me. I wish it was finished so I could give a more complete review, but this will have to do.

CHARACTERS:

Shep: In Amber’s/Valencia’s memories, Shep is a lot more rebellious and less cheerful than he is in the present. I hope that gets explained, since right now it feels more like an inconsistency in characterization.

Richard: What a gross human being. Everything about him just screams greedy monster. He did feel a little one-dimensional, though, especially in contrast with the other characters.

The minor characters in the novel tended to slip out of my mind, and I had to constantly remind myself of who was who because I couldn’t quite place them. Usually, when I read, I remember minor characters by the first letter of their names, and you tended to reuse a lot of first letters, so that might have had something to do with it. I’m not sure. Either way, the minor characters lost me.

Otherwise, though, the characterization was strong and complex. Not much to complain about.

PLOT:

The concept of a zombie apocalypse as a whole is a bit overdone, but you executed it well. The only comments I have are things you’ll probably explain later. You had Valencia as Shep’s commanding officer, but she works for RexCon, right? So then why did she give orders to Shep to destroy the drones? This confuses me, primarily because none of the other children were conditioned that way. The ending of chapter 32 killed me inside and that’s all I have to say.

WORLD/SETTING:

Again, there isn’t much to complain about here. I just have some nitpicky biology things to complain about because I’m a biology nerd and I couldn’t suspend my disbelief for a couple scenes. In chapter 16, you said that fish DNA was incorporated into strawberries to help with thermoregulation. Animals and plants thermoregulate in completely different ways. A fish gene would be of very little use to a plant -- it would be going to scales or blubber or bones, none of which plants have. And if the only use is to prevent strawberries from dying out from frost, I would use evergreen genes instead. Trees in general are marvelous at thermoregulation. Fish and plants are just so physiologically different from each other, with such different needs, that I can’t even imagine how that would work. Your disease is based on cancer, correct? Cancer, however, does not actively kill normal cells. Cancer is simply uncontrolled growth. It steals nutrients, yes, but it doesn’t actively kill, if that makes any sense. It’s also far slower than what you’re looking for, as cells do take time to divide. If, on the other hand, you’d said something like “based on a viral infection pattern,” I would have believed it more than cancer. It’s also the way to go if you’re trying to accidentally infect humans while really trying to kill them.

STYLE:

In a couple of the chapters (I first noticed it in Ch1), you had POV switches mid-chapter. In general, it breaks the flow of the viewpoint. If necessary to make a POV switch in the middle of the chapter, I would use a line break in between, just so readers don’t have a moment of confusion. Other than that, I couldn’t find anything much to critique here.

If you have any questions/comments, feel free to let me know. And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know about those as well. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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A Fascinating Read

This was a fun, entertaining read. Although the novel wasn’t stylistically polished, and although the first couple of chapters struggled to hold my attention, the rest of the novel was engaging and beautifully done. You had me fooled until the end.

The rest of this review will contain spoilers for future readers, so please do not read this review if you haven’t read the novel.

CHARACTERS:

I’ll start with basic analyses of the three main characters, then move into general characterization.

JOHN: His basic character traits seem to be his confidence and (later) sadism. The switch between the two was incredible, and I loved it. Although he seems a little one-dimensional, it suited the plot, and it worked. In fact, making him too complex might have ruined the story. Great work on that. For his character, I’m mostly going to focus on the believability of his past.

John didn’t have the tools to make as few mistakes as he did. Given the murders that happened near him in the past, I refuse to believe he and his brother haven’t been fingerprinted before. Since fingerprints differ even between twins, he should have been caught by now. I also refuse to believe that when he was what, eight years old, he had the presence of mind not to leave fingerprints on the knife or anything. Eight-year-olds don’t know about fingerprinting really. Also, it stretches my imagination to believe that John killed people since he was eight. Animals at that age? Yes, I can believe it, but he wouldn’t have been strong enough to kill a grown person. It takes physical strength to stab a body, and it would have taken physical strength to subdue his mother. Most serial killers were abused as children. Given that John was not abused, my imagination stretches thinner and it became more difficult for me to suspend my disbelief.

The chapters written in John’s POV felt like a cheat in the narrative, as he seemed to think and feel things that he would not have felt and thought had the events revealed later in the story been true. The first few chapters should still make sense on a re-read, and they do not. Be careful when entering John’s point of view, as you need to portray him as a kind brother without lying to the readers. Meanwhile, when you do enter one character’s point of view, try to stay in that character’s point of view for the entirety of the chapter. Inconsistency can lead to reader confusion.

JAMES: His basic character traits are his timidity, his guilt, and his loyalty to his brother. Other than that, he seems to lack depth. His personality shifts, especially in the beginning, from being humorous and open with John to being completely closed off with everyone else, were inconsistent and felt a bit false. Meanwhile, the observation skills he showcased in the beginning almost seem out of place. I understand the need for his intelligence, but there are other ways to portray that. I loved his character, though, and the deck of playing cards was a nice touch.

DANIELLE: Her basic character trait was her persistence, but she didn’t really have a choice there. She tried, she struggled, she failed, she cared, she sympathized. However, I never truly cared about her as a character. Again, this is fine for the genre, but I would like to see a little more cohesion and depth to her character. Also, I would have expected her reaction to the deaths to be far greater, especially since she’s so inexperienced.

The side characters tend to be forgettable. Their deaths didn’t really affect me as much as wondering if the twins would be able to get out of the situation, which works well for the story but makes me feel a bit sad that I couldn’t care about them. Mostly because all of their character traits were introduced in chapter three and only mentioned infrequently afterwards. You mention the character names a lot, but it took me a little longer than usual to connect the name with the description, since we couldn’t see their actions. They all had a defining word attached to them (the crazy couple, the businessman, etc), but they never seemed to have character traits that led their actions throughout the novel. Again, this is fine for the genre, but it did get a little confusing especially in early chapters.

A lot of the characters’ names that start with “J” seem to get mixed up. Once or twice, you called a character “John” instead of “Jack,” “Jack” instead of “James,” “James” instead of “John,” etc.

Right now, your dialogue seems unconnected to the characters. The dialogue styles seem the same for all the characters, regardless of their personalities. This is especially noticeable in James and John’s dialogues in the beginning of the novel, when James sounds precisely like John, confidence and all, despite their vastly different personalities. Try to make them sound different, and readers will more easily be able to distinguish the brothers.

John calling his brother “brother” seemed a bit forced at times, but that’s just me nitpicking.

Although I prefer well-developed characters, the story itself isn’t character-based. I do think you need to resolve the inconsistencies with James and John’s characters, make the side characters a bit more memorable, and keep the point of view more consistent as well. Other than that, the characterization was more than adequate for the genre.

PLOT & SETTING:

This section will mostly focus on what I notice during my second read through the piece. I’ll try to keep it chronological, so that you can follow the story progression.

Let’s start with the bad news. The first two to three chapters weren’t the best. Forgive me for being blunt, but the first chapter especially was horrible. Maybe you weren’t experienced. Maybe you didn’t develop your characters enough at that point. Either way, even on a re-read, I was confused. I think you were confused, too, since you used James instead of John and John instead of James, and I had to reread the chapter around three or four times before deciding to give up and move on and pray that it would all become clear later on.

On the other hand, I loved Jorge and Silvia, and the initial description was perfect for setting up the location. A little more description could be used throughout the rest of the story, but this is a thriller piece and too much could really bog the story down. Right now, you’re almost perfect for the genre.

In the dialogue between the twins, the “three motels ago” “five motels ago” dialogues were confusing, mostly because the brothers sounded so similar that the dialogue detracted from the story rather than added to it. The problem disappears later in the work, which makes me think you simply didn’t know the characters well enough at that point.

The side characters seemed remarkably calm throughout the novel, except during chapter six where they went hysterical for maybe twenty seconds before turning calm again.

I don’t really have much to say in between. The slow buildup of suspense was masterfully done. You have a very good sense for raising the stakes and keeping reader interest.

After James confesses, why doesn’t Danielle videotape the cell door, the way she used video earlier? It seems like a ridiculous oversight, especially as she was so cautious.

How did John transfer the blood to James after every murder?

How does James black out all the time? Actually, no. That’s the pills. How did Danielle black out, when James was in the cell? She didn’t take pills, and it didn’t seem like she got knocked on the head or anything. And later, when Danielle was left alive and Bifrons left. How did he knock her out so quickly?

How exactly did the hypnosis with the psychiatrist happen? What happened, exactly? James was in the room, and his brother was locked outside. James was hypnotized, and John gets into the room? By picking the lock, I assume? So why does Bifrons say the psychiatrist “figured it out the dynamics between James and me pretty fast” in chapter 21? The psychiatrist can’t have figured it out before the hypnosis, or James wouldn’t have been hypnotized at all. meanwhile, the only way he could have figured it out after hypnosis was when John entered the room, which wasn’t really figuring it out.

The second to last chapter, where the majority of deaths happen, felt a bit rushed and melodramatic.

I loved the misdirection until the end. Beautiful.

STYLE:

Is English your first language? If it is, I don’t mean to offend you, but there were several misused words that I don’t usually see in English-speakers’ works. Most of the errors weren’t distracting enough to detract from the plot, though, so I’ll just list the most prevalent ones.

Spelling/Grammar Errors:

There were punctuation errors throughout. Misused commas, misused exclamation points, etc. I would suggest looking up comma usage and reading through the rules yourself.

In general, avoid multiple punctuation, such as !!! and !!? The only time when double punctuation is acceptable is this: ?! and even that is highly informal and rarely used.

I also noticed several dialogue tag errors in capitalization and comma usage.

In chapter one, your dialogue is not separated by paragraphs. In general, when switching between speakers, paragraph breaks should also be used to signify the change.

There were a few places where you used present tense instead of past, but they were less distracting.

In terms of usage, I noticed you used “peeked” instead of “piqued” and “steak-out” instead of “stake-out.” Those were the only ones I noticed, but there may be more.

Overall Style:

Especially in earlier chapters, you lack subtlety. For example, in chapter two:

“We haven’t had a cellphone in forever.” John tried to calm James down. “And there’s always the landline. We’ll be just fine. Let’s enjoy dinner for now.”

The “John tried to calm James down.” feels a bit redundant in the above piece of dialogue. This is just an example, but in general, try to avoid unintentional redundancy.

Throughout the story, most of the information is conveyed through monologuing. Try not to have characters monologue for the sole sake of conveying information.

Overall, however, the novel was very well-written. I’m not talking about grammar or word choice specifically, but you do have a good sense for what details to show and what details to gloss over. I don’t think you have a very specific style, per se, but that only comes with practice and reading.

Good work overall. Despite the harsh critique, I really did enjoy the piece. With a little polishing, it could become even better.

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To Love

Overall, this was much, much better than the previous story in the series. While the characters’ reactions are occasionally over-exaggerated and the plot tangled, it was still enjoyable to read, and kept me hooked.

A more thorough critique will be posted as comments rather than as a review, as paragraph breaks don’t tend to translate well into reviews.

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The Promise

This was a fairly interesting read. There were times when I skimmed rather than read, as it did get repetitive, especially towards the middle of the novel. Overall, the plot was decent, although the characters were flat. It reminded me of the novel The Loop by Nicholas Evans, except with bears rather than wolves, and with the genders of the main characters swapped.

A more thorough critique will be posted as comments rather than as a review, as paragraph breaks don’t translate well to reviews.

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Across the Rift

This was an excellent read. The writing style made me nostalgic for books such as the Chronicles of Narnia, and the worldbuilding was incredible as well. The minor and supporting characters were especially well-developed, although the protagonist himself was not. The plot seemed to exist solely to explore the world and was not independently interesting. That said, Across the Rift was a fun read, and I enjoyed myself.

A more thorough critique will be posted as comments rather than as a review, as it is rather long critique and paragraph breaks don’t translate very well into the reviews.

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The King's Game

Overall, this was a fascinating, solid first draft. I’m excited to see where you’ll take this concept and will definitely read more as you post. I’m going to divide my review into multiple comments, as it’s fairly long, and reading a chunk of text without paragraph breaks is a pain.

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Pandora's Wake

CHARACTERS:

The first chapter was fine, really. It was clear, it was decently written, it had just enough backstory to give me information and more than enough action to keep me reading. After that, though, the sheer number of characters overwhelmed me.

How many characters are there? Thirty? More? It would’ve been easier to keep them all straight in my mind if some were clearly minor characters and some were clearly major characters, but they all seem to be major characters. Thirty major characters for a book like this is overwhelming. Choose maybe five characters whose points of view are the most important, and keep the chapters in those points of view only. Right now, you’re trying to do too much, to handle too many threads at once, and it isn’t working.

Here’s a tip: for major characters, make sure each character’s name starts with a different letter. It’ll be easier for readers to quickly pick up who’s who.

Here’s another tip: if you have 3+ characters in a scene, remove all the dialogue tags and see if an interested reader can pick out who’s speaking just from the dialogue itself. If your reader cannot, you may need to do more characterization work.

PLOT:

Again, with so many threads, it’s difficult to keep everything straight. This is compounded by the structure of the novel itself. So far, action sequences lead to more action sequences without pause or rationale. In general scenes should be structured so that one action scene leads to a reflection sequel (characters thinking about what to do next, just giving the reader a break from the action, giving the story air). That reflection sequel should again lead to a new action scene through causation. Sequels cause scenes. Right now, you have a stack of scenes, and you’re adding events without foreshadowing the causes for each event, so the events aren’t believable. Maybe the foreshadowing was in the first book and I just missed it completely, at which point it’s fine.

WORLD/SETTING:

I am so confused. There’s a zombie outbreak, kind of like the premise of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host (terrible book, excellent premise). There are also… vines in the last couple chapters? I’m still not clear as to who is one who’s side and who all the players are here, and I’m 17 chapters in. Again, I’m not sure how much of this is because I haven’t read the first one, but usually I’m fine with reading the second book in a series and understanding it (even if it wasn’t intended for that). Hell, I’ve been able to read books from the middle of the book and understand everything. Maybe your first book was just very dense in information or something. I don’t know.

STYLE:

Tone down the dialogue tags (“tutted” “repeated” “huffed” etc). Do you want the readers to focus on the dialogue itself or the dialogue tags? “Said” and “asked” are fine to use. They fade into the background and don’t interfere with the reader’s comprehension.

If there’s dialogue in a section, slow it down. Have a character think about what the other characters say. This would be easier if each section had a designated point of view (especially in the Ronan and Mathias sections).

Overall, I think you just need more details and scene-sequel cycles to slow this down. It’s far too fast-paced, even for an action/thriller book. Your stated genre is sci-fi, though, not action/thriller, so it really needs to slow down. Read more sci-fi if you want to market it as a sci-fi. I think this is closer in tone to some of Clive Cussler’s books than actual sci-fi, though (his are action/thriller). If I were you, I’d take one of his books and retype a couple random chapters of it, word for word, just to get a feel for how an action/thriller is paced.

There were grammar errors throughout.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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There Were Sparrows

Overall, this was a lovely story. While the characters were complex and the setting was well-developed, the plot was unfocused. There were minor grammar and usage errors throughout.

The first half of the story is told in retrospect. It is a brave, difficult choice, and I felt that a more straightforward narrative would have suited the story more, simply because no new characterization or theme was coming through the conversations between Neil and Jince. The structure unfocused the narrative rather than giving it more depth.

In Chapter 5, when Jince told Neil to keep listening to her story rather than allowing him to sleep, I immediately considered her a selfish brat. I’m not sure if that was your intent. Much of Chapter 6 was an accidental repeat of another section. Overall, the plot was fairly captivating. I’m not sure why Jince spends so much time talking about her school life; it wasn’t relevant to the theme at all.

STYLE:

While the rhythm and flow of the words were outstanding, the word usage in a few places seemed confused, imprecise, and often redundant, conflicting with the intended tone.

We’ll take a look at your second paragraph to begin with, line by line:

“For Mr and Mrs De’Costa, that morning began with pavement lilies bending to soft breeze, stretching and shredding onto the persistent concrete of roadside.” - Here, the word “pavement” is being used as an adjective to describe “lilies.” Are pavement lilies a specific type of lily? I’ve never heard of them. There should be the article “a” or “the” before “soft breeze.” I’m not sure why the word “shredding” was used. Are the stalks of the lilies being shredded onto concrete? It doesn’t illuminate the image. The visuals here seem designed to bring peace and calm to the reader, but “shredding does the opposite.” “Shredding” is a far more violent verb. “Persistent” is a strange adjective for concrete as well, in this context. If the sentence had been discussing the age of the concrete and how it had remained throughout Mrs. De’Costa’s life, then the word “persistent” would have been more apt, but without such a context, it confuses the image rather than clarifies it. And, again, there should be an article “the” before “roadside.” “It was age that prevented Mrs De’ Costa from bending to pick the swaying lilies, and it was age that had her reading poetry into the sway of yellow and white, remembering those many verses into the refracting and reflecting rays of the misty Sun.” - Here, the “swaying” in front of “lilies” is superfluous, as it was heavily described in the previous sentence. “Remembering those many verses into” doesn’t quite make sense. Remembering implies something that she isn’t reading at all, just remembering, but you say that she is? Also, how can someone remember “into” something? Once again, the language is imprecise. Using both “refracting and reflecting” is redundant as well. Rather than “misty,” I believe “clouded” is a more precise word, although I’m not sure it’s what you’re looking for. “Sun” should not be capitalized. Did you mean, “Recalling those many verses under the refracting rays of the clouded sun” or something similar?
“Mr De’ Costa was observing his wife for many fond moments before he decided that he should be angry at her, for not involving him in her thoughts, for enjoying her quiet reflection without him as he walked beside her.” - Delete the comma before the first “for.” ““What do you think of these school kids walking in front of us,” Samarth De’Costa spoke at last, gesturing at the pair of tiny tots shuffling ahead of them.” - the dialogue is a question and should end with a question mark. “His gnarled fingers clutched onto the cane in one hand and Mrs De’Costa’s wrist in the other. The road stretched matted before them, evenly gravelled; the air was lit up, sensing; and the morning rested in acceptance of all its glorious flaws.” - The semicolon before “and” should be replaced with a comma, as it is not the correct usage of the semicolon. Other than that, however, this sentence is lovely.

These types of errors occurred throughout the work. Additionally, in the first chapter, you had a point of view switch without a line break in between. Try to keep each chapter/section in the same point of view. Also, when you have two or more speakers, split paragraphs so that each speaker has his/her own paragraph for clarity. Be sure to use line breaks between setting changes to avoid confusing your reader. For longer scenes, instead of separating the past from the present using a section in italics, line breaks make for an easier read. Keep the reader constantly in mind. I noticed that you overused dialogue tags other than said/asked. Said/asked should be the default, as they fade into the background and allow the reader to focus on the dialogue itself. When you use words other than said/asked, such as blurted, heaved, cursed, mused, etc., it actually takes focus away from the dialogue itself and brings it to the speech verb. Italicize non-English words for greater clarity. The convention for translation is to have the dialogue in italics, and then the English outside of the dialogue without italics. “Madam ji, aapki colony aa gayee.” (in italics) Madam, we have arrived at your place (not in italics). Remember: every single word should have its own distinct and unique purpose, whether to illuminate character, setting, or theme. Right now, you are so focused on opulence of words that you lose clarity.

And please, if you have any complaints/critiques of my review, let me know. I, too, am looking to improve. Thank you.

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A Bit Vague

Hello, hello. I was just browsing through Inkitt, looking for something to read, and this caught my eye due its one-star reviews. Narcissism wars are always interesting, so I thought I’d give it a review as well to see what happens.

The first chapter is a bit vague. It reads more like an unnecessary prologue than a chapter one; it’s full of a tragic vagueness that strives to create suspense but fails. Nothing happens except a thought-monologue. If I saw a first chapter like this, I would skip it and see if there were any actual characters in the second. If there were characters in the second, I would read the novel from the second chapter onwards. Vague first chapters are unnecessary and I can usually infer everything in them from the rest of the novel.

Anyway. I can’t give this much of a review because it’s only one chapter. I like your writing style though. It’s so formal and pretentious. If your dialogue writing style is equally formal and pretentious, I will laugh a lot as I read your updates.

I'm giving this one star for plot because there isn't a plot so far, just a premise. I'm giving it one star overall because these types of prologues are my pet peeve.

Have fun writing, and don't take this review too seriously. I have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm just a teenager who likes to read things.

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Interphase

This is a little short for me to give a full critique, but I'll do my best. I can't really comment on characterization, worldbuilding, or plot with such a short piece, so I'll focus more on your writing style. The first section doesn't really connect with the rest of the work and seems unnecessary as a hook. The piece as a whole lacks quotation marks, making dialogue very confusing. You may need to brush up on your comma/semicolon/colon rules as well. I enjoyed your descriptive phrasing in the first paragraph of the section after the line break. Overall, this was an interesting start which mostly needs grammar work.

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To Dream Review

This was certainly an interesting read. The concept was fascinating -- Dreamers with various abilities, fighting against a dystopian government. A sci-fi plot and setting with fantastical abilities. That said, the execution does need work, especially in pacing and characterization.

A more thorough critique will be posted as a comment rather than a review, as it will contain spoilers for future readers.

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