Sunday, 21 December 2014

SP Book Review: Everlong

EVERLONG by Nikki Morgan
3 Stars
Verdict: Beautiful descriptions, raw portrayal of depression, but copious mistakes.

When love is a matter of life and death, it's not about losing your heart, but saving it.

On a bitterly cold New Year's Eve, seventeen-year-old Evie Anderson jumps from the Old Bridge to her death. Seeing her fall, Josh Winters plunges into the river to save her. But Josh is the Angel of Death sent to collect her soul, and saving Evie is against the rules. As their worlds collide, they must conquer their demons, in the battle to survive. With Death standing between them, can love triumph as they fight for their lives?

The Rating Breakdown

Enjoyment:  4   I loved reading it and connected with the characters.

Writing Style:  3   Beautiful but error prone. 

Plot:  3  Interesting. Ends before divulging much.

World & Concepts:  3   Concepts from Josh’s storyline need work. 

Characters:  4  Great characterisation, but Evie and Josh’s voice overlapped.

Finish:  2   Good cover but desperately needs a copyedit.

Strengths: Evie’s emotion is heart-wrenching. Vivid descriptions. 

Weakness: It needs work. It has five star potential, but a two star finish.

I have a soft spot for angel books and fairy tales, and once I heard this was an angel story based on The Little Mermaid, I was ready to read.

The story is told by two very different individuals who are both somewhat trapped in their situation. One is of an angel called Josh who wants to be free of Death herself. Death has a hold over this angel and won’t let go, forcing Josh to go on an adventure where he uncovers ancient history concerning angels and the fallen. This storyline adds in a fair bit of action and a brilliant character named Obadiah who has lived a long life and wants to die, but first must guide Josh on his quest.

Josh’s plot does involve him sitting and listening to a lot of different concepts. While the history is interesting, there are better ways to convey information and I felt like this storyline became unnecessarily complex. Instead of introducing several concepts that the reader has never heard of, it would have been better to structure the story so that it only relies on one or two. This plot could have been tighter, but it still hooked in my attention.

Josh’s story is the mythical and mystical side of the plot, whereas Evie provides the character driven plot. The two complement each other well.

Evie’s life sucks. Her home is broken, her mum is a selfish train wreck, she can’t face her best friend anymore, and the boy who she thinks saved her is also a member of the group who are bullying her. I felt a lot of sympathy for Evie, and longed for something good to happen to her or for her to stand up and make something good happen.

Evie’s pain feels real and raw, thanks to Morgan's beautiful way with words. Evie doesn’t sound like a moper, a whiner, or a wallower; despite everything, her voice is still full of energy! She has strength in her character and does start fighting back, too. Those moments were empowering, even if they were just a small victory in her troubled life.

So, with two storylines should come two points of view...but Josh and Evie's narrative overlaps a lot in structure, language, and focus. At times it was a little too clear this was written by an author crafting a story rather than from the individual characters themselves which is why I couldn't give it 5 stars for characters.

This book is the first of a series, and I definitely want to know what happens next. It’s also quite short and I felt the ending needs more of a punch. The last few scenes lacked tension and I ended up turning the page expecting more story only to realise that was it. The best part 1’s of a trilogy are stand alone novels too, so something to make the ending feel final would have made me put the book down feeling a lot more satisfied.

Still, Morgan writes beautifully. Descriptions are definitely Morgan’s strong point. My favourite was the way a black feather was described as looking ‘black at a distance but on close inspection where actually made up from all the colours of the rainbow, like petrol on a wet floor’. The only problem is the typos, such as ‘where’ in this example, and it’s far from the only mistake.

Straight away I noticed capitalization that should have been italics, incorrect use of semicolons, incorrect commas, comma splices, inconsistent capitalization, typos, wrong dialogue formatting... Sometimes okay was spelled ‘okay’ and other times ‘ok’. I knew from the first page that this hadn’t been professionally edited and it desperately needs to be. Every single page had a mistake on it, some more distracting than others, and it gives off an early draft vibe.

Then again, I enjoyed this more than some of the novels out there with next to perfect copyediting. But without a professional finish, it's not a finished product.

What stood out the most is the potential. This is definitely one of the best self-published novels I’ve read recently, plot wise. In places the writing is beautiful, vivid, descriptive, and unique, but if you’re like me, you get distracted when you notice errors and end up feeling a bit frustrated. If I wasn’t kindly gifted a review copy, I would have felt cheated from the inexperienced use of grammar and punctuation and the author’s choice to not give the actual content the same professional finish as the cover. Writing and editing are two different skills, and this novel is the perfect example of how you can have one without the other.

So would I recommend this novel in its current state? No. I wouldn’t accept so many mistakes from a even the smallest traditional publisher, and as much as I enjoyed reading it, I know the self-publishing stigma comes from books like this which are essentially half finished. It's a harsh but true reality.

The bottom line is that this is a book to watch. If Morgan releases a cleaner version I’ll be the first to tell you to go buy it. Until then, I have to remain objective and honest, and this novel isn’t quite up to standards. Not yet.


Author Profile

Nikki Morgan is the author of Everlong, which can be purchased through Amazon. You can see her author interview for more on how she self-published Everlong,  and check out her inspiring article on the ideas behind it.