A Writer’s Artistic Journey
I’d say my title is a good sum up about how I feel about this novel.
Read the story now
The author and I are completely different when it comes to style, structure, and writing ideologies. His book is one that is polarizing - just read his comments! (And make some yourself).
It is intended for a very specific type of ideal reader, and while I don’t fall under that category, this book does what it wants to do very well. This novel is for those that enjoy a book that brings you into a gritty, almost dystopian superpower world. Anime and manga fans will recognize the style of writing almost at once and be gripped by lengthy, detailed fight scenes, high stakes, and a relatable MC.
The plot is well thought out and planned. As I said, I am not that reader; but the powers, foods, and dynamic culture of the city were all still intriguing to me. I am also capable of recognizing when a book is not meant for me and what it is doing well.
Notes for the author:
I do not know where you want to go with The Gourmet Gladiator series moving forward. From the rest of your work, I’d say it may be a stepping stone; but you’ve put so much work into the series, it may be a culmination of larger works. I’ve read from some of your reviews that you’ve greatly improved over the course of the series.
So I’ll make my 3-3 feedback style pretty general. My suggestion, as always, is to embrace your strengths and prop up any potential weaknesses you feel you have. These are the strengths and weaknesses I picked up from reading your work. Granted, I’m not that far in but I feel like these things will be important even as far into the book as I am.
Your 3 greatest strengths:
1.) Plot. I know this may be incredibly broad, but your planning is intentional, with purpose, and unwavering. You aren’t the kind of author to be swayed by your character’s wants and needs like I am. An iron pen that will push the plot through to the end.
2.) MC. Your MC is clearly beloved by your intended readers, but he also has a clearly defined list of flaws. The iceberg effect is strong with him. I don’t specifically relate to Toby almost at all, but I know exactly what you’re trying to do with him and for the most part I feel you are successful. Relating to an MC isn’t important to me, but likability is. Sometimes I honestly kind of hate him, but he’s a well developed character and those annoyances are definitely intentional.
3.) Power development. This is a genre-specific strength. The powers and the ones you get from the different foods are all incredibly interesting and I enjoy ‘collecting’ the different foods and powers while I read. ‘This does this? Oh wow, that’s so cool!’ It’s like a soft magic system for superheroes.
Now, your 3 perceived weaknesses from me. As always, take this with salt but I’m going to be very honest with you.
1.) Environment. You have a tremendous, interesting plot here. But I don’t know what anything looks like! There’s a ton of white space. For example: we could tell a lot about Toby’s parents just by knowing what their house looks like. They’re rich, but my mind filled in the blanks and put a tiny little single-family home that pretty much just included Toby’s room and a living room. I don’t have any sense of the time period other than ‘modern’, so I fill in the blanks with a New York-like place because there’s not enough theming to help me construct a full image. I want to know what culture we have! For the most part, everything just revolves directly around Toby and the people that Toby sees. There’s so much potential in it! And you only need to hint and piecemeal it, you don’t need expositional paragraphs to accomplish it.
2.) Character cast. Iceberg effect. Your characters seem like plot devices, not plot drivers, if that makes sense. For example, when Rebecca gets upset at Toby for fighting, it seems totally not logical for the situation because - they were attacked?? Why are you mad at Toby? It just makes her seem not smart (which contradicts earlier chapters) and unlikable even if a heartbreak is what needed to happen for the plot.
3.) I don’t usually make comments specifically about the author in my reviews, but I think you could benefit from a little bit of a gentle callout because I experience the opposite of the thing you do. I cannot love my writing, no matter how many times I go back over it. It is always abhorrent to me, no matter how much fixing or compliments I get. You’re the opposite. Very confident in your work and that’s honestly something I envy you for.
When I read your book, it felt like a maybe third draft in style. Not a finished, perfected, ready for publisher novel. And once again, there is nothing wrong with that, it’s taken you so much time and effort to get here.
But I almost felt afraid to critique you at all because it felt like, despite asking for my style of feedback listed in my post, you were really just trying to get your novel in front of more eyes.
My point is, Grant, that your novel isn’t perfect, but that’s okay. If you’re happy with it, if you’re happy with all you’ve accomplished, then so am I. And I’d totally watch it if you ever made an anime adaptation.