The first page nearly had me stopping altogether, because the comparisons seemed to contradict. When I read, “The impending storm mirrored her mood,” I anticipate that the character is feeling dark, angry; emotions roiling like storm clouds across the sky; but no, the very next phrase from O’Connor states that the character feels “empowered” (?), I would almost be willing to accept that the stormy environment is powerful, lending to a feeling of empowerment; however, just prior to mentioning the storm mirroring her mood, the author states “the air sizzled with pent-up tension”. Again, this gives me a sense of anger, not empowerment. Still, fair enough, it's possible I completely misinterpreted the opening scene and became confused over the character’s feelings. Still, as the reader, I shouldn't be confused so early on.
I keep reading. The story seems to be getting better, until I hit the fourth paragraph. “Her mood improved as the wind picked up, and she playfully conquered the crashing waves.” Huh? Where did this come from, and what does the wind have to do with her sudden uplift in mood? The author was discussing her depression, her mom not wanting to wear a bathing suit, and even stated the character was feeling “empowered”, then wham! Without explanation or lead-in, a shift in wind speed picks up her mood?
One paragraph after that confusion, O’Connor chooses to use “leaped” instead of “leapt”. Acceptable, if “leaped” sounds right in the text, but the actual past tense of “leap” is “leapt” and should be used unless it doesn’t fit the text (i.e. you want to rhyme “heaped” and “leaped”). To me, saying “schools of fish leaped in the distance” didn't sound right; would have sounded better “schools of fish leapt in the distance”. Because of the awkward use, I stumbled over a sentence that should have flowed.
Keep reading, I tell myself. Give it a chance.
The scene immediately following is well done; however, the author repeatedly says “run”, but our character is in the water. Wouldn’t “swim” be the appropriate term? And how does she “crouch” in the water? If she’s that close to the shore, would a shark be able to attack her; would she not simply be able to walk out of the water, or “run” as she constantly references? Moreover, how does one tense their muscles for action in the water? Tensing up would cause one to sink, unless they could touch bottom near the shore, in which case my previous assertion remains – just walk out, no shark could swim that close anyway because it would be too shallow. Perhaps the swimmer, at 15, is tall enough to stand deeper where sharks swim. Still, as the reader, I should be able to visualize the character’s plight, yet struggled to do so.
Soon after, the author states, “Teeth clamped on her leg as she stared into dark, malevolent eyes”. How could she see “dark, malevolent eyes” if the shark is under water, blood is flooding the water around her, and certain sharks roll their eyes back in their head to protect them during an attack, thus making them appear milky white?
All of these confusing conflictions take place within the first chapter, which makes me wonder whether the author thought through what she wanted to convey, or did any research to back up her information.
As much as I wanted to keep reading and give it a chance – after all, the author’s writing isn’t poorly done – I simply couldn’t. I felt no sympathy or empathy for the main character. The writing, while far better than some books I’ve read, was cliché and the dialogue unnatural. The transitions between scenes were confusing, abrupt, oftentimes leaving me wondering how it came about.
Overall, this book has potential to be good, but I think this is one of those self-published works that would have benefited from hiring an editor; someone who could have caught the unnatural quirks and assisted in smoothing out the writing.
Recommended? Not highly, even though it isn’t completely without potential.
Who I Am...
My name is Barbara Woster. I am an author, business owner, and an educator. Writing is my passion, but I also enjoy providing insight for aspiring authors. Additionally, I review work by other writers upon request. To have your book reviewed, simply get in touch.