Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Ashes by Stefani Ellis

Title: Ashes
Stefani Ellis

Summary: Sidney Fox was your average seventeen-year old girl. She looked like everyone else, dressed like everyone else, harbored hopes and guessed it, just like everyone else. After a long and uneventful winter break, Sidney returned to the stale hallways and cranky teachers to find a new addition: a mysterious new student named Cael, he seemed to immediately fall into the role of the most popular person to ever step foot on campus. At first, Sidney was repulsed by the gaggle of girls that hung on his every word, that is, until he explained that he has no control over the attraction others have for him, it's just one thing out of many that he is just as confused about as she is. Cael knows what he is, but he has no idea how or why. Their search for answers sends them across the world and forces them to go to extreme measures in order to get those answers.

Okay, I was debating whether or not to review this because generally I don't like to review books if the majority of what I'm going to say about them is negative (unless I feel the need to rant) - I told the author I'd review it, it's a self-published book and I really wanted it to be good because it was kind of a pain in the ass getting it (the author was going to give me an e-book of it to read, but I don't like e-books much so I bought the actual book and it took like 2 months to get here cause it got lost in the post the first time).

Anyway, on to the actual review - it was okay.

In the first half of the book, I liked the main character - she was entertaining and her thoughts made me laugh a few times, particularly how she would give her mum a funny nickname in her head each time she mentioned her... but that got old pretty fast and by the second half of the book, she kind of lost the parts of her personality that made her interesting. In fact, she got pretty annoying in the second half of the book and became more and more of a Mary Sue towards the end.

The plot - well, it had the potential to be quite good I guess, but the execution of it was pretty bad... it started off alright, a little rushed maybe, but not terrible. But once again, by the second half, it just went on a total downward spiral and it got ridiculous and parts of it were really, really poorly explained (you know how sometimes when you're reading the writing of amateur authors - like on fanfiction or fictionpress? And parts of the plot just don't make sense and are hard to get because it's like, the author just assumes it will make sense to the reader because it makes sense to themselves? It's like that).

The plot just didn't flow well at all... even in books that have a lot of unexpected twists and turns that come out of nowhere, it can still flow well but with every new plot twist that was revealed, it was like I had to force myself to continue reading it - like I said, it just got ridiculous.

Parts of the book were a bit Twilight-y, and I'm not talking the whole human/vampire romance thing, because that has been done before anyway... what I mean is, the way the characters act, the things they say and talk about and such, but it wasn't delivered as well as it was in Twilight (which is saying something, because Twilight isn't all that amazing).

The romance wasn't even remotely believable... not just because it happened so fast (seriously, if the romance in Twilight seemed a bit fast paced, this is worse) but because the two characters were severely lacking in any sort of chemistry, it was just one of those "they're soul mates, they're destined to be together" type situations where we're just supposed to accept that even when there is nothing at all to show why they should be together.

Now, my biggest problem with the book was actually the editing - there were a ridiculous amount of typos and not just that, but words used incorrectly where it's pretty obvious what the intended word should have been but the word used in it's place was just like "uh, wtf?".

Another thing about the editing was, if this wasn't a self-published book and it had a professional editor, then it wouldn't just be typos, spelling and grammar errors and such that the editor looked out for - the editor would look out for plot holes, things that should be cut or added or things that didn't make sense... but because it wasn't professionally edited (I think in the acknowledgements the author said her mum was her editor) none of that stuff was fixed (take one plot hole that seriously bugged me for example - the characters got on a plane to europe without a passport, there is no way that at least one of them could have gotten one because they pretty much spur of the moment just jumped into the car and drove off without having anything with them).

A thing I'm kind of torn on is the POV's - the book changes POV's quite a bit and I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing... on one hand, it's interesting to see what the other characters are thinking, but then there's the negative - it pretty much removes a whole lot of the mystery and suspense from the book, if it had all just been told from Sidney's POV then I think it could've been more interesting and the author would've been forced to explain things better instead of falling back on having the other characters reveal everything.

I guess I should wrap up this review, I think I've said enough about it - to sum up, it was an alright book... not great, I've read worse. I'm being kind in saying it was okay because I think most of the problems I had with it are largely down to poor editing (and it has sort of put me off reading self-published books in future).

With the plot - maybe it just wasn't my taste, you shouldn't judge it just by what I've said in this review, because there are some books that I really didn't like while other people seem to love them (example being Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - although with that, at least I can see the appeal).

I'm not going to bother reading the sequels.

Check out the authors website (I think you can read some of the book on there):


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