The Theasaurus is your best friend
There is amazing potential for this book but I do feel like there also needs to be a lot of improvement. In this review I shall go through some of the areas that I thought could be improved so I hope you find this useful and a way to be able to help improve your writing. After all, that's what we all need to do as writers, isn't it haha!
Read the story now
I shall start off with the plot rating. I absolutely loved where this book was going and all the character development as well! It's a very intriguing story and the plot itself was brilliant! I ended up actually binge reading this book last night, whoops! XD. Anyway, the reason I am giving it a four instead of five is because I feel that the first chapter of this book could have been changed. Why? I think instead of showing us the main character's back story immediately, it would have been absolutely amazing if you could have shown us snippets of her life through the novel to create tension and mystery around the main character, instead of telling us right off the bat. Keep us in the dark, reveal small bits through flashbacks or dialogue (like when she shoots one of the infected later on, perhaps she has a flashback to her mother's deranged face or her father's etc but nothing more) and then finally, it comes to the light. I feel this would have added a lot more suspense. One more thing, what would have happened if she had to shoot her mother? Or her father? Or somehow kill one of them? Wouldn't that add a lot more suspense? I really, really, recommend you go back and just make the backstory more heart wrenching. That way whenever she had to kill an infected, she could hear a scream of her mother/father -- just really, really, really make it dramatic and don't be afraid to go over the top! Keep pushing yourself! Apart from that, I really, really loved the plot, so well done!
I want to now focus on the writing style. I do like your writing style but don't love it as in general -- and this is completely about my own preference -- I am not a big fan of first person, present narrative. Aside from this, there were a couple of mistakes I saw in the writing style. The first one at the beginning when you write: “Dad pin himself straight up ( . . . ) Mum push me out of the way and dad launch himself across the bed ( . . . ) I watch in horror as my father is biting into my mother's neck.” I want to focus on the words:
These words in this paragraph are all slightly confusing. Read over the extract and see if you get what I mean. It should be this:
“Dad pins himself straight up ( . . . ) Mum pushes me out of the way as dad launches himself across the bed ( . . . ) I watch in horror as my father bites into my mother's neck.”
Or even better, change up the words:
“My eyes widen as Dad snaps up straight. ( . . . ) I feel mum's shaking hands throwing me out the way, knocking the wind out of me as my body collides with the sharp bed post, a gasp escaping my cracked lips. I watch, frozen, heart thumping in my chest like a race horse as dad hurls himself across the bed, his eyes glowing, hungry for flesh. Mum! ( . . . ) I don't realise I scream until my mum's blood is spilling from her neck and her body is crumbling to the floor, my dad looking over her with a sadistic smirk, red blood dripping from his chin. His eyes snap to me." Etcétera etcétera. In this one you'll see I don't mention the dad actually biting into the mother's neck, however, it is implied, which brings me onto my next point:
Show don't tell. This is so, so important when writing s story to create tension and it also allows you to get really creative. Let's just say, the Theasaurus will be your best friend. I shall give you an example:
“Tears make my way over my cheekbones.”
This is very simple, upfront. Not much description or dramatising. To be honest, I didn't really feel many emotions when I read through this. So how do you improve it? Like this:
“A burning limp forms in the back of my throat as I gulp for air, a wretched sob escaping my shaking body as my vision blurred, a feeling of light headedness washing over me. I stumble, only just catching myself from falling. My heart cracks. I gag loudly. I want to die.”
Okay, maybe the last sentence was a bit over the top but I wanted another short snappy sentence lol. They are perfect for building tension and emotions. Now you'll see I never included the word tears because you know just from reading that, that she is crying. Don't be afraid to go over the top! It makes the journey for the reader a lot more heart wrenching. But yes, this is just something to think about when you go back to editing.
One more thing for show don't tell. In the beginning, you wrote:
“It is turning brown, from the infection I assume.”
• change the word brown for something a bit more groovy or for a similar etc
• remove the “from the infection I assume” and change it into a feeling of dread or worry and the reader will know that if the blood is going brown quickly, that is is not a good sign and we will limit he two dots up and realise it is the infection. You don't need to tell us.
Finally, with writing style, I recommend really becoming best friends with the Theasaurus, maybe even marry it lol. This will really expand your vocabulary range and open up so many possibilities! One thing I did notice -- now this isn't as bad, don't worry -- is that in a few of your paragraphs, there is a repetition of a particular word. Don't worry, this doesn't happen often, but here is an example that I found:
“I lift myself ( . . . ) And lift my heavy crossbow.”
I would just recommend changing one “lift” into a different word simply by looking through Theasaurus. It will make the paragraph flow more easily etc. Just a thought for when you come to editing xx
Now I want to focus on the grammar and I have s few areas here and examples I felt you could have improved on. The first one is that on numerous occasions I found spelling mistakes but that's okay -- we all make them -- and the I also found you tend to use: “,” or “;” at the end of a paragraph which is incorrect. You always need to use a full stop or it can in some cases be a colon, but not always. Only use them for lists. But yeah, if you read published novels, you will notice they don't use commas or semi colons at the end of paragraphs and it's always fill stops. So just be careful on that. One thing I've picked up recently is annotating published ebooks and I recommend you do this too as it will allow you to really examine the writing style if an author. But you also tend to use a comma at the end of a dialogue speech whilst this is alright if the speech is split in two, e.g. “hey,” she smiled. “its lovely weather today.” it is not okay if you use the comma in the last part of the dialogue as it is incorrect and comes across as the main character has not finished speaking. Make sure it's either a full stop, exclamation mark, em dash or question mark.
Next, there were a couple of sentences I picked up that didn't make sense such as:
“She launches at me as I dug benath her out.” and
“my watching oedals” from the first chapter. I have no idea what this was meant to be, sorry, so I just recommend either reading the book aloud to yourself as you edit, or perhaps get a beta reader to give you tips etc. Don't worry though, we all make mistakes like this as writers.
I also want to let you know that with elipsis, it's important not to over use them and they should also have a space in between each dot. The exception being is it's followed by a closing speech mark or is at the end of a paragraph. And what I mean for over using is having it multiple times in a short space of reading time. Just even it out, don't over use it. Also, there was a point when the main character was constantly asking herself questions and there was the repetitive use of “...?” (which should have been “. . . ?”) instead, it would have been more impactful is you removed the elipses as the elipses slows down the reading time and therefore the tension. Hit the reader with rushed questions with no elipses' to really mirror the internal conflict the main character is feeling let the reader feel the rising tension and paint too.
Okay, that is all the notes I have written down I really hope you find this useful and that you'll be able to continue to improve your writing. Don't give up, keep reaching, keep growing and keep improving and you'll definitely get better over time. I really hope I haven't put you off of writing either but it's really important for writers to get criticism because it does help them grow so please don't be put off and use this as a chance to grow as a writer. You really do have very good potential and I believe you can go further and make it big is you write and writer and practice etc. Each paragraph you write get you closer to the goal of being published so don't be afraid and give up reach for your goal and believe in yourself you will get there if you keep practicing and learning, trust me! The routing world is a cut throat job, very few get published. Often publishers read the first few pages and they can immediately put it down and throw it away because they will be able to tell it's not that good so you really do have to keep improving if you really want to get published but trust me, you do that and you will get closer and closer to the goal with each article you read and published book you read so once again, don't give up!