Wednesday, 4 March 2015

SP Book Review: Unfortunates

Unfortunates by Lillian Graves

2 Stars

Verdict: Needs a developmental edit.

Seventeen-year-old Vanessa is about to get a new life—whether she wants one or not. With a best friend keeping a crazy big secret from her and her parents rubbing their perfect high school love story in her rocky relationship's face, she doesn't have any more cares to give. So when Adam, a ghost who calls himself an Unfortunate, tells her she is his Match - the one who can help him earn his second chance at life by committing random acts of kindness – she nearly blows a fuse.

No, scratch that. It shot straight off. I mean, why help a ghost who may just be in her head? What was in it for her?

After the denial and resistance pass, Vanessa begins to realize not all of arrangement is against her favor. There is something rather cute about Adam and maybe, just maybe, if he is telling the truth and she brings him back to life, he could be her new date to prom.

But can her selfish ways live up to his expectations?


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The Rating Breakdown

Enjoyment: 2 I got pretty frustrated with it.

Writing Style: 3 A few quirky lines. A few confusing lines.

Plot: 1 Other than milling around and talking about concepts? Not much. 

World & Concepts: 1 Confusing, underdeveloped, inconsistent. 

Characters: 2 Nessa was well developed but not very likable. The rest... were ‘the rest’.

Finish: 5  No typos. Great cover.

Strengths: Made me smile in a few places.

Weakness: No real plot and concepts are inconsistent. 

~*~

To rant or not to rant...

I could write a hefty developmental report for this book. Instead I’ll try and keep this as short as possible.

It started to get confusing pretty early on, and from 50% onwards I was wondering where the main plot was hiding. The story seemed to be a wordy explanation of the different ghosts, called Unfortunates, with Vanessa’s love life thrown in-between. If you can take it on face value you might love it, but if you’re like me and can’t ignore inconsistencies and things that just don’t make any sense then you probably won’t do well with it.

I found Vanessa (Nessa) intriguing. She’s mouthy and enjoys playing the kid-card against her parents, but she also has an altruistic side. There was something very real about her. Then again, she tends to act like a hypocritical bully which makes her difficult to like at times, as realistic as she might seem. At least she was interesting to follow but it’s always better when you can root for the characters.

I liked Nessa’s parents the most. The mum reminded me a little of my own and the dad seemed loving and not afraid to call Nessa out when she’s being rude (shame he wasn’t around more often). It’s great to see an older couple still affectionate too.

That’s it for the characters. I’ve already forgotten the rest. As for the plot, nothing much happens other than milling around and learning about Unfortunates. A lot of coincidental events occur and Nessa went about her daily life. This wasn’t necessarily dull, but if you asked me where will the character be ten pages later, it could have been absolutely anywhere. Probably at school, though. Or trying to shake off Eric, the boyfriend of three years that she’s fed up of.

As for the concepts, I loved the idea of human Matches being linked to ghostly Unfortunates. That’s what drew me in, and it’s kinda what spat me back out.

Once you get into the details, it makes absolutely no sense. We have Ones, Twos, and Threes, and despite the amount the book went on about them, I had no idea what these terms meant until another reader took a stab at explaining it to me afterwards. There are also bizarre and illogical tasks that needed to take place for...reasons. Kindness acts are also some type of currency, but how you spend and receive isn’t something that’s defined or shown.

It is almost like the author didn’t have a clear mechanism figured out before writing it. Even the characters seemed confused. “I don’t think anyone understands it,” Nessa says at one point. What hope does a reader have if even the characters have no idea?

The writing style was a little difficult too. Sometimes it was creative, other times it felt odd. Occasionally I had to reread sections to work out why the characters had mood swings, but for the most part, there’s an original spark. Some lines from the first part made me smile as well. I had high hopes to start with because the writing is quite strong.

Part of me thinks ‘Good writer, wrong story’. I’d be interested to see some of Lillian Graves’ future novels. Some writers take a few books before they really nail the whole writing thing. It’s not as easy as it looks...

Source: Author (Thank you, and sorry I couldn’t be more positive!)