This is only the second time I’ve read a book by an author I’ve had contact with. I have followed Alex Apostol on Google+ for a while now, and when it came time for her book to be published, I offered to do a review of it. She graciously accepted (after looking at my other reviews, I am certain). But I’ll say (just to keep everything above board) – I do not actually know Apostol, and I’ve certainly received nothing in exchange for posting a review (other than a copy of Earth Angel). I simply love to read, and I like to then write reviews. So here we go.
Since I never do “book report” style book reviews (I rarely mention anything substantive from the storyline), I like to post the book blurb for my readers. The official title of the novel is Earth Angel: A Kamlyn Paige Novel (The Kamlyn Paige Novels Book 1), and the blurb reads: Kamlyn Paige is a young woman whose son was taken from her by a soul devouring demon. Now she travels the country overcoming evil while searching for revenge. On the way to freeing her son’s soul, Kamlyn comes across new and old friends who help her to learn new things about herself and point her in the right direction to vindication. Every moment for the past year of Kamlyn’s life has been leading up to this and now that she is aware of who she is, she may have a chance at survival.
Paranormal suspense novels are not my normal fare; I am typically more of the literary fiction genre reader, but this novel drew my interest. And for a person who rarely reads this type of book, I will say from the beginning – I enjoyed the read!
Now for a bit of a review…
By trade and training, I edit. I studied English, and part of what I do professionally is write and edit the writing of others. I know I am not perfect in that, but editing issues in a published text are a real issue for me. Earth Angel does suffer from editing problems, but I want to make a general clarifying statement about that – most books I read have some type of significant editing issue! [Insert plea for quality editors here.] Apostol has massive potential both as a writer and as a crafter of stories, but this particular novel suffers from a lack of technical and creative editing. Some of the language becomes clunky at times, but I could easily forgive these lapses because of the significantly stronger writing in other places (something that could have been corrected pre-print). The story needs detail help in some places, but again, this I could overlook because of the quality of the story at large. I hate to belabor a point, but a good editor could have made a few points in a few places and raised the quality of this book to superb (because Apostol has true talent!).
As a writer, Apostol is good. With more practice, she could be great. And her particular strength, like the strength of many other young modern writers, is that she tells a damn good story. Even when other things staggered, the story pulled me right along. Even for someone who typically doesn’t particularly seek out the genre, I couldn’t wait to see what was on the next page. And trust me, that’s saying something very good! Her use of language will continue to mature, and her authorial voice (which I must mention, is both unique and strong) will continue to define and improve. From one of my most important judging point of a book – can this person write – Apostol gets good marks, and the reader can tell that even better things will come.
One of the places all young authors need work is developing emotional depth in their characters, and Apostol is no different. There are several scenes where emotional development is stunted…like the way a teenager reacts to pregnancy and getting dumped by an immature boyfriend, and the way a mother reacts to the death of a child. Granted, these are very difficult scenes to write for anyone. One of the things I look forward to in Apostol’s later novels is seeing how she matures in this area. She tends to tell us about these situations, instead of showing us and allowing the reader to live the moment with her character.
Early on I desperately wanted more details about the characters, and I felt that the story was pressing forward at the expense of character development. Later, as I continued reading, I understood better what Apostol was doing. This press was helping the reader feel the intensity of the protagonist’s situation, and the detailing is filled in later through well-done flashbacks. Flashbacks are easy to mess up, but they are quite well handled in Earth Angel. This ‘pressing’ feeling might bother other readers, as it did me, but be patient, because it will be worth the tension.
I look forward to reading her next book (and the next in this series) Hunted Angel, due out January 2, 2015. (and I hope she won’t mind a review of that one as well!) To order books directly from the author, order from her website HERE.
You can buy Earth Angel: A Kamlyn Paige Novel (The Kamlyn Paige Novels) (Volume 1) here, now!