Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Just Got My First Review. Eeeek.

Okay, so it's a 3-star review.

Personally, I'm totally cool with that, though. Because to me, 3-star reviews still mean that they liked it, or at least they thought it was okay.

Considering I wrote Family History Part 1 and Part 2 two years ago, though, and had not really looked at them too much since, I'm good with that. I know that I've gotten better. I also know that not everybody is going to like my writing. In fact, I'm surprised anybody's liked it enough to buy it. Especially The Dowry. I'm dreading the day somebody finally decides to review that book...*shudder*.

But honestly, I would rather have a mix of good and bad reviews. There's this one guy on my twitter who is constantly boasting about how his book has something like 27 Five-Star reviews. I clicked the link to his book to see if it was true. It was, indeed true, but there was something else missing - other reviews. That's right, his 27 5-Star Reviews were his only reviews.

Honestly, that just makes me feel like he has a generous extended family or an extensive group of friends.

Anyways, here is the link to Family History: Part 1 with the review. I'll post the text below:

KT Hall's Family History Part 1 is a generational tale about Collie Barrett and her descendants and how they deal with an old family curse. The story begins with Collie and her brief but passionate sexual encounter with a stranger. She gets pregnant from this encounter with Marie. Marie grows up to become a beautiful albeit na├»ve girl who, like her mother before her, finds herself with child and an uncertain future. 

It's easy to mistake the novel, which is set in the backdrop of 19th century England, as a historical romance. It's not. Far from it. Even though the bulk of the book deals with romantic love, the characters are complex and do not adhere to any kind of stereotype that you might find in romance books. Collie for instance is a strong-willed woman who is quite intuitive about people. Yet, her daughter, Marie, is almost the opposite. It's revealed in the book that while she thought she was pregnant with her beau's child, it was in fact his cousin that she had unwittingly been sleeping with. 

The writing is focused and does not meander. You can tell that KT Hall is a precision writer who values control. In fact, it might be too controlled. The story is divided into different time periods that almost read like thinly connected vignettes. This is a good thing if you like reading snippets of what life is like in 19th century England. However, in this case, you won't know it without the chapter titles. The author does not take the time to world-build so you're left with little to discover about what life was like back then. The characters all talk like it's Midwest USA, 2012. Maybe that's a point, if not the point. Some readers will like it because it's postmodern. For me, at least, it's a distraction and therefore at times it pulls me from the story, particularly when a character refers to someone as a "guy". Would it have killed the author to at least use some English slang--not all the time but at least once or twice--to create verisimilitude?

As for the family curse: I don't think it's ever intended to be a mystery. In the first few pages, you'll find out what it is. And yet, the author never truly delves into it. Perhaps, again, it's because the story doesn't end with Part 1.
Still, despite these shortcomings, the book is an enticing read, one filled with intrigue. When you read this book keep in mind that it's the journey that matters not the destination. It is, after all, just the first part of an even bigger story. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

...my favorite part was "KT Hall is a precision writer who values control."


Yay for first reviews!

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