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General Fiction

  • Summer Girl

    by Linda Watkins

    Rating: 6.25

    Plot: A poignant story told from the perspectives of two teenagers lovers, Andi and Jake, separated on a tragic night and reunited 20 years later. The story is structured as two reminiscences, and while lacking in a driving plot, provides the reader with steady-enough suspense that curiosity will propel the reader to peel back the layers of Andi's tragic story, and root for both to abandon their lives and families for a chance at what-could-have-been.

    Prose: Dialogue flows effectively, while expository sections read with ease. The novel is not without its moments of melodrama and significant periods of time are glossed over in summarizing sections. Still, there is much to enjoy in this breezy romance.

    Originality: A familiar tale of star-crossed lovers, this novel carries its own unique charms and players. The purposefully ambiguous ending is the book's most original aspect, leaving its readers with bittersweet blend of hope and anxiety in its final mystery.

    Character Development: The book's two halves each offer a summary of their respective protagonists' lives, giving the impression that for both lovers, the substance of each life was prelude to their reunion. Beyond the protagonists, the other characters serve primarily as role players.

  • Return to Lesbos

    by Lin Sten

    Rating: 6.25

    Plot: Return to Lesbos is the final book of a tetralogy, and it presumably picks up where the previous installment left off. New readers will find themselves scrambling to keep track of the characters, their histories, and their motivations. Nonetheless, the book is well plotted with some fun moments of action that punctuate the novel.

    Prose: Though the descriptions tend to be a tad verbose, the prose strikes a fine balance between denseness and clarity. The dialogue is snappy, and the author has made efforts to keep it historically consistent.

    Originality: The plot and characters are original and interesting, though they fit too easily into archetypal roles. The authentic use of historical figures and landmarks serves the story well, portraying a vibrant civilization full of enlightenment and treachery. Indeed, the author displays a fastidious attention to historical detail, though it sometimes slows the story's momentum.

    Character Development: While there are certainly many characters of varying importance (and a lengthy glossary to help lost readers regain their bearings), there is little in the way of meaningful development for the key characters. Perhaps more of the ground work was done in the previous installments, but the primary characters, Arion and Smerdis, each have a singular focus and are lacking in depth.

     

  • The Legacy of John: A Journey of Wisdom

    by Peter Lago

    Rating: 5.75

    Plot: This novel is well plotted and well paced, if a bit cliche in some of its details. Additionally some events seem implausible, and readers will likely feel that the ending strains credulity.

    Prose: The prose is solid and the text flows easily with the narrative holding reader attention throughout. That said, there are a few errors in word choice and punctuation.

    Originality: The plot is not particularly original, though this is compelling book -- and at times the characters travails feel like fresh takes on familiar themes.

    Character Development: John Hanover is a very well developed character. However, Paul is less developed, while minor characters read more like archetypes or caricatures.

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