Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guardian: A Book Review

So you've probably read my review of Feather, by Abra Ebner.  Feather is part of the Feather Book Series, which has a total of three books, the other two being Guardian and Raven.  I finished Feather for the second time and decided to read the sequels for purpose of review, and to see what happened next.  I bought the remaining books, plus one other, and anticipated beginning Guardian.

If you've read the first review, you already know my feelings on the potential of Feather.  That potential carries through the whole series.  In Guardian, Estella is trying to come to terms with the events of the first novel, and is trying to move on, with the sometimes help of her guardian angel, Sam.  (Sam's story is pretty interesting itself.)  She visits her former college to see her friends Scott and Sarah, and to see the decoy of Edgar that was left behind to teach Edgar's classes.  She finds out where Scott and Sarah are staying and, after some inconsistent snarky inner thoughts about the "slightly British" nurse, meets up with Scott and Sarah, who are engaged and living in her old cabin.  Estella, trying to tell the other two that she is a hybrid (of what, I'm not sure), manages to tell them that she is a Wiccan (which she is not; I looked up the definition of Wiccan to see if there was one I didn't know; there isn't.)  Scott and Sarah think it's just peachy keen that Estella's a Wiccan (she tries to correct them with hybrid; I get confused); Sarah starts jumping up and down and clapping her hands. (Again with the junior high behavior.  How did these people get to grad school?)  After talking to her human friends, Estella returns to her home and goes on a quest to find Edgar (spoilers...oops) in the City of the Gods, somewhere under the earth.  She is accompanied by Sam and another character; if you read the book, you'll see who it is.  (Or you can wait until my analysis; either is good.)  At the end, Estella returns empty-handed to her home, and sometime later helps Sarah and Scott with their wedding, getting a surprise visit from a certain someone at the end.

Pretty interesting, but it failed to captivate me.

When the three characters are traveling in Heaven (which is under the earth; according to the text of this novel, Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth is accurate.  I've read Journey to the Center of the Earth; subterranean earth in Verne's book is not anything close to what it is in Guardian.)  This series is self-published, self-edited, and full of grammar mistakes and typos that may have been avoided had anyone else read the book.  The story is quite interesting, though I will disagree with the author as to the "mystery" surrounding Edgar Allen Poe's death; it isn't a mystery, and I think someone attending him on his deathbed would have noticed the icy skin he possesses in this book (he's a guardian angel.)  Again, Estella sees fit to remind us that she is perfect, beautiful, and powerful.  This lack of flaws is not what keeps her from being a likable character; it's the fact that she's rather mean and can be self-absorbed and a touch bi-polar.  Her actions tend to be passive ("I noticed" rather than "I saw"), and once again, we get a play-by-play of her facial expressions and the tone of her voice.  Estella often cannot decide whether she resents or appreciates Sam and often thinks some pretty mean stuff about people that she calls friends; she then goes on to say how much she treasures that person.  When she meets the council of gods at the end of the book, Estella even has the nerve to say that a goddess who is closely scrutinizing her face is less beautiful.  In the first chapter, Estella admires her face in the reflection on the kitchen counter.  Honestly, when I read that, it made me want to shut the book and not pick it up again.  Unless the point is to make this character very unlikeable, she's not put together well.  With a little more work, I think she could have been a great character, but I think Ebner wrote this book too quickly to really give her characters the justice they deserve. 

The book's grammar is also off and she uses the word "butt" way too much, and it's not really comical.  (That word belongs in movies like Shrek and others that are meant to be funny on different levels.  In a fantasy romance like Guardian, it looks awkward, immature, and first-draftish.)  The editing is lazy.  I say this because it may be hard to edit your own stuff, but it is possible.  Sure, a book's huge, but taking it chapter by chapter would have alleviated some of the glaring problems that I found.  The writing gets repetetive.  Here's a paraphrase of one short passage.  "...the wall.  'It's a wall,' I said.  But it wasn't just any wall."  The second two sentences were redundant, uneccessary.  Describing the wall would have told us that it "wasn't just any wall." 

Overall, Guardian had the same potential as Feather.  The plot was more involved, but quite linear.  The characters were passive and never changed or grew.  The main character is not one that readers can relate well to; not only does she exhibit Mary Sue-like tendencies, she also can be unjustifiably mean towards those she considers to be "the little people" (quoted directly from the book, I swear.)  Guardian could have been a good story, but like the book that came before it, it fails to live up to what it could have been and is plagued by the same problems as the first one. 

Right now, I'm working my way through Raven (spoilers!  Edgar's point of view gets some air-time) and I am looking forward to posting a review of it on here.  If you can, try to take a look at the text, and I'll be posting an analysis of the book with tips on writing based on what I've read.

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