Writing characters that are believable. If I was doing magical research and someone hired me because of that, why would I also need a job at finding vampires? If my life was being threatened I would head for a safe house, not run out on a mission to figure out who was using my magical donuts to do evil. If an ex shows up and someone partners me up with them, I am going to need something other then "they are a double agent" to convince me it's ok. If i hate vampires and they slowly drain my life force, I am not going to risk my life just because i am told to without a back story of why I must. If a master vampire calls my body guard son, i think i would figure out thats the guys maker. I think it's also not believable that I would accept a "we will talk about it latter" response and drop it never to be mentioned again untill the great reveal. If someone almost killed my dog I would not instantly forgive them. If someone I did not trust was helping me find info I would ask basic questions like where are we going and why. If someone tries to attack me and starts to reveal some kind of secret but gets cut off for whatever reason, I would notice. The writer forces the story line foward using flawed character logic.
In the first few chapters the narrator was having a hard time transitioning from female character to the monotone used to give information. It's ok now and then but it should never happen in the begining while a listener is getting to know characters. Audio samples tend to come from this part of the book so it's vitally important to get it right.
I kept having a hard time understanding what the narrator was saying. He was talking too fast and i started getting a headache. Even at 50% speed i kept missing something. Maybe i am going deaf or the compression removed something but I could not figure out a way to make it ok. 10 minutes in the narrator switched to a female voice that was so bad the I turned it off. His voice for Damien's mother sounded like a 15 year old boy doing an impression of a transvestite who wears a cowboy hat in the most insulting way possible. It was REALLY bad! Chelsea Campbell or her publisher needs to fire whoever decided to cast this guy and re-record it.
I loved the book, 2nd one was ok but I think the 3rd is the best so far. The writing style reminds me of the "Night Huntress" series written by Jeaniene Frost but with girl on girl action.
(some spoilers kinda)
It's hard to explain what is wrong with the book. The writing is on the good side, the narrator is decent and i liked the story. It's just a problem with leaps of logic and illogical character behavior. The main character was being blackmailed to do something but the leverage was worthless, yet supporting characters were saying she could nto get out of it. yea right (sarcasim). After saying yes with a signed contract the good guys follow someone to try to get out of it and all the sudden the agreement meant nothing and again they have to agree without any logical reason and again they do. After that the characters set up some kinda of trap and a bad guy who is a known assasin all the sudden becomes a good guy and has never killed anyone. The book contradicted it's self. After the bad guy is transformed into good guy the main character jumps to all kinds of conclusions and now we know the reason why all this is happening. Totally unbelievable. I didn't like some of the alternate terminology like the words for magic and upernaturals. Every time the narrator said any of these I spent a second or 2 trying to reassociate them with the actual meaning. The mental stop and start messed with my ability to follow the storyline so I had very little immersion while listening. The last thing I want to mention is this really weird speed thing going on in chapter 20. In a few places the narrator started speaking so much slower that i thought i had accidentally changed the speed setting. After that i turned the book off. I would not recommend this book either in text or audio format.
The Good: writing
I loved the writing but I do take issue with the "Novel" label being used. To be frank, it isn't a novel. It's far too short. At 175 pages with 300 words per you get around 52K words. With the speed talking that gives us less then 4 hours of audio. Modern novels are 6-12 hours long with the typical being 8 hours at 100k+ words. Yes a novel if your being super generous can qualify at 40-60k words but it's not just that. The writing style is that of a short story that has been expanded to hit the magic novel word count.
The Bad: Audio
The narration is terrible. I liked her voice but voice acting is a talent, It's not something just anyone can do. Several times i could not figure out who was who because Erica did not fully seperate the first character from the next. One time it happened mid sentance. I cannot believe no one caught that. I also don't think she has the skill to do male voices. I listened to some other stuff Erica Risberg has done via samples here on audible and they are all just as bad.
The audio editing is terrible. In several places it's super obvious that the sound clips were recorded at different times because you could hear a difference in the background hiss. Audio volume was off too. One scene starts with Sadie thinking / explaining something. We hear mono tone and low volumn. Thats good. Then she starts talking to someone. It's active dialog so the audio volume increases and we start to hear emotion. Also perfect but then another character responds to what she said and the recorded volumn goes up again. What??? It makes no sense. For a while there i thought i had confused who was who again before i realized the louder voice was a bad audio splice.
The last thing I would like to mention, the audio speed. I felt like I was listening to a speed reading contest. My guess is someone was trying to save money everywhere and the final attempt at maximizing profit was forcing the book to fit onto 3 CD's. When ya go cheap on the voice actor (can't seperate voices), the recording studio (background noise), the sound editing (misaligned audio volume) combined with penny-pinching on the CD's, you end up wasting your time. Self publishing isn't for everyone.
Writing is terrible, immature and lacking of character development inside a story with pacing issues. It's also graphic in a few places for nothing other then shock value. The rape/suffocation scene early should have been a red flag but I ignored it thinking i was being too judgemental. An hour and a half in the 8 hour book i could not take it and turned it off.
Characters seem far too willing to accept world changing revelations to the point that i could not get into it. I think there is going to be some girl on girl romance which would be hot except it's far too forced and juvenile. Something is wrong with the writing. Maybe it was cut too much or that the idea balls (southpark look it up) didn't line up right either way the book comes off as superficial and rushed.
I am not a fan of books with so many different points of view. The book also had an outdated feel to it that i can't really explain other then to say it's there.
Book has in addition to the girl a very annoying "boyfriend" that spouts huge amounts of religious nonsense. 42 minutes in I turned it off.
If you do a search for sci-fi and fantasy this novel is listed. The first book is great. It's got magic, self discovery, enemies and their plots to discover. It's everything you expect, at first that is. The further and further you get into the series more it becomes about the latest love interest and gossip. I hate it that it had so much potential. Someone didn't catagorize these books right. These books are the kind where the main character seems to date everyone but seems to always experience the "I can't be with them because __FILL_IN_THE_BLANK__". I made it all the way to the 5th book hoping the romance would go away but it just got worse. I liked the narrators, all 3 of them LOL. The first narrator kept doing this weird sound that was supposed to be a cat talking or something but to me it seemed like the cat was saying "nympho" all the time. Maybe it was on purpose, not sure but it annoyed me. The second narrator made me think someone went from an immature 20 year old to a girl of 15. It was a little jaring.
I loved the unknown, the coldness, the creepyness of the first 3 hours. Out of no where without any build up the romance ensues. It's taking forever to get to through this book. I am a little more then 1/2 way and only like 2 things have happened. It feels drawn out. It's like someone got a 12 hour book and split it. When not scaring you your falling asleep.
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