The third review is March by Jordan Elaine. This story I had the pleasure of starting when I judged in the Mysfic Awards last year. Now, here I am reviewing it as the third one in my review series here on How to Inkitt.
Go check it out!
Now, on with the review and feedback:
When I first started this story, I immediately thought of Mean Girls mixed with Pretty Little Liars. The clique system from Mean Girls, with a tad bit of Gossip Girl in the fact they mentor the next in command like Blair did with Jenny in the show. Alexander, in the book, mentors Daisy. Once you dig into it, it's a lot more than just that. A tale of a group of friends caught in the politics of their prestigious private school.
Alexander reminds me so much of Michael J. Fox's character in the sitcom Family Ties, Alex. Or 'Alex P. Keaton' as he would introduce himself. Absorbed with the politics of it all, enjoying every second. Except Alex comes with Celestine (I think i spelled it right, if not I do apologize) who he despises with a passion for her kiss ass mentality who wants to rule all. Both thrive for this type of position and take academics and themselves über seriously. Unlike his television counterpart, he has a sidekick in Hera, another Clique Leader.
Each of your characters have a distinct voice and personality. Fiona is bubbly. Hera is more closed off. Camila don't take no shit from anyone but softens up once you get to know her. Alex acts like he rules all, but has a soft spot for Hera and his sister, though he won't acknowledge any sort of relationship with Hera in public. Lucas is bubbly as well but knows when not to, he also fits in well with the group of girls. Angelica is innocence personified but can also hold her own quite well. I applaud you for taking on the challenge of taking on so many main characters at once, it's a difficult task you've done well with.
The plot holds this aura of suspense, especially when everything gets turned on its head a few chapters in when the unthinkable happens. Many - like Natalia, who appears to be someone who would do anything to further her agenda and to be able to achieve what she wants - wear a crown of mystery. Each one more suspicious than the last. Even the few more side characters like Daisy and even Bailey. Even Adam and Eva who seem like they could be cheating on Fiona though he seems so sweet with her. If he does, I'll throw hands because, where I'm at, she does not deserve that.
Okay, your characters are so believable that they literally have me ready to fight one over a suspicious. Oops.
Anyways, you really took the Mean Girl trope and turned it on its head. Who you'd expect to be the mean girl is actually more reserved and a bit of a bookworm. There were some cliché characters like Luke, the misogynistic jock, and Fiona, the overly bubbly theater girl.
You really got me hookes by your story and I can't for more from March.
This is probably a first draft I assume, so the issues with grammar/punctuation. Along with some back and forth formatting issues plus weird worded sentences.
The main issue was with the dialogue formatting. Sometimes it was done right and other times not. It flip-flopped.
"But you were born for this." Alexander reasoned.
With dialogue, if it ends with a dialogue tag and the last sentence ends with a period, there should be comma replacing the mark.
"But you were born for this," Alexander reasoned.
With Hera and Alex's relationship, you mentioned they were close. With Hera having unrequited feelings for him. Like him drawing her with charcoal back when they were in 7th grade, but even then, a lot of cloae male/female friends don't change in front of one another like that. This is where detail comes in handy, showing his back turned while she changed on the other side of the bed/room. Some scenes hold a lack of detail which can turn to some confusion. That being one of them. I'm not saying describe every little thing, but find a nice balance. Use what needs to be used, that'll tell more about the characters and what's needed for the scene to flow right.
Another thing is foreign words.
"Hola, big brother." she giggled.
When you interject a foreign word into a story, they're supposed to be in italics. Since 'hola' is Spanish for 'hello', it should be italicized when Angelica says this to Alexander. On an unrelated note, there was some back and forth between this as well with the first word after dialogue. The first letter should be capitalized if it isn't a dialogue tag, which it wasn't in this sentence.
So it turns into:
"Hola, big brother." She giggled.
You made the same mistake in the next dialogue set with Alexander, but it's all good. A first draft will have errors. Hell, I know mine do haha.
On the topic of italics. Long text like novels and movies should be done in italics. You mentioned Here reading Little Woman, which I can tell from your profile picture and bio you love it, and it wasn't italicized like it's supposed to be. I didn't fully learn this rule until a little while after I started writing, so some of my earlier works had this issue. Small texts like songs and short stories are done in quotation marks while the larger ones are italicized. Also, italics can be a good way to provide emphasis. There was a line when Camila mentioned how Alex thought he ruled the world, when in fact he ruled their world. In my head, I emphasized 'their' and in that context, it would work really well in italics to not only put emphasis on it, but show the contradiction to how he doesn't rule the entire world but a smaller type of world instead. That being those of the student body.
When it comes to splitting up dialogue in the middle of a sentence, there are certain things. Like the end of the mid-sentence should end with a comma and the end of the sentence before the dialogue kicks back up also ends with a comma.
"Good," Alexander said. "why should you be?"
With the way this was set up, I assume you meant for this to be one sentence. So, after the word 'said' there should be a comma.
It turns into:
"Good," Alexander said, "why should you be?"
There was also the issue of run-on sentences and some over elongated paragraphs. Like the paragraph with Fiona and describing Adam and Eva plus the ROTC Clique part of them. It at one point took up my entire phone screen and there was an obvious break where it could be divided into two paragraphs. Also, there were too many adverbs. Adverbs are supposed to be used sparingly when necessary. You can easily use a descriptive noun/verb or even some sort of sentence or action to show the same thing. And a lot of the times it sounds better.
Another thing that should be used sparingly when necessary is exclamation marks. When i first started out, there were times I was an offender to this rule. But in one sentence, there was three exclamation marks in one paragraph. One does the same thing, and it can also be shown she's chipper through the way she talks, word choice, what words you choose to emphasize through italics, and even your dialogue tag/surrounding actions. Words can be more powerful in that sense than the mark.
She swung the door open, out of breath, and took her usual place at the bartop. "One cherry coke with extra cherries!" She told the server enthusiastically. It took her a moment before she even realized Hera was beside her. Hera was unusually quiet with her head on her fist, staring off into space. "Hello Hera! You look dreamy!" Fiona giggled and hugged her.
For one thing, this should be two seperate paragraphs. After Fiona says her order to the server, it should break up once it begins describing Hera and her dreamy presence. Coke, because it's a proper noun since it's the actual name of the drink, should be capitalized. But, since you emphasized with the dialogue tag she was chipper - also in the entire chapter - the exclamation mark isn't needed. With her greeting to Hera, it could work just fine, only needing to add a comma before her name since Fiona's talking to her and not about her. And then take away the mark after her mentioning how she appeared dreamy with a period instead.
For the last sentence, something like this:
"Hello, Hera! You look dreamy." Fiona giggled and hugged her.
Your vocabulary is superb and you use a wide variety of words, though at times it could be bolster by a little more detail in certain places. The way you show everyone's grieving process makes them more unique in the way that not everyone grieves visiably or even in the same ways. Like Camila bottling it in and Hera going through the motions and also Fiona being a sobbing mess.
There were some moments your dialogue felt a little off, like it could have benefited from a better word choice and also some of your narrative sentences as well. Like you probably already know, word choice is key in a novel. And it especially so in dialogue. You dialogue as a whole is very well done though.
While I love the way you've worked and developed your characters. Their motivations were missing at times. We know the most about Hera and Alexander. Hera loves Alexander, not believing he loves her back, and essentially goes through the motions without seeming to want to be a Plastic Clique Leader. Alexander thrives as the leader of the Honors Society/Student Council type Clique and wears his title with pride like his family before him. Like Camila said, he rules their world. He doesn't like Celestine and wants the legacy of the Clique held by someone reputable, like Daisy. Why he's taking her under his wing. And we also know Camila takes a special interest in helping the younger classmen, especially helping them stay away from assholes like Luke.
At times, it feels like with some we truly don't know what drives them. Their ambitions. I don't know if you meant for this to be vague for us to slowly unfold later on, but just something to watch out for. Like I said, I still enjoy and like your characters regardless. Especially Hera, her potential backstory with Luke, and maybe even Alex finally admitting his feelings for her because she deserves a man that treats her like a queen and will shout he loves her from the rooftop. Camila is a badass and I really want to see her succeed as a female Clique Leader of the Jocks. Not only because she's a female in a male dominated area but also because she's a badass and I believe she can handle it well from the way you portray her in the novel. Worried though that Angelica will loose her innocence too soon, but in this school environment it was bound to happen.
When you mentioned the spiked Capri Sun, you kept forgetting to captialize the other part of its name. Think of it how we capitalize both United and States in United States. I lived off that drink when I was younger, and now your book makes me want to try it the way Lucas made it, no lie.
Like I mentioned before, some of your words could be replaced by more descriptive words. Not all the time do you need to use words like 'pulled their blazers over their shoulders' instead of 'put on' but when you use the same 'bland-ish' type words over and over again without any change up, it can get too boring/repetitive. But using the more descriptive words and phrases at times bolsters your story and helps morph the image you want in your readers head.
Like I've said multiple times, I love this story. I'm invested in this story. And I will see it until the end. Your characters are so captivating, even the more bitchy ones, and I want to find out each of their endings. You are so talented and I can't wait to read more of this story and more by you in the future. Congrats on uploading this novel and crafting it so well with multiple main leads. Your story is awesome and thanks for requesting this story be reviewed in the story. Hope this helps any!
Thanks for reading and if you want your novel reviewed and given feedback on it, comment it down below. Again, only comment your books, not others. Hope you enjoyed and hope this helps any. Happy reading and happy Thursday!