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I chose Division as my 'book published this year' for the 50 Book Challenge

Division


Full Disclosure: I do not personally know this author, but I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a candid review.

When I saw review copies offered, I jumped at the chance to read this book. Besides being a huge sci-fi fan, I write science fiction 'fairytales' myself. While I don't mind the concept of retold classics, I was pleased to see that these were all original tales. For the most part, the stories are extremely well-done, with themes that explore the same human experiences in new, futuristic, but still authentic ways.

Lee S. Hawke is undoubtedly a fine author with compelling ideas and a definite skill for storytelling. Though many endings are left 'open ended', as some reviewers have mentioned, I found them all to have very clear and complete story arcs with very satisfying conclusions. The ideas and themes behind the stories are brilliant and fun. I was moved many times. Hawke has definite wordsmithing skill, and I found myself impressed with certain turns of phrases or the sudden realization that a new story had swapped to present tense, and I hadn't even noticed until mid-way through (I'm usually not overly fond of present tense). The characters themselves were all unique, although I did find that the author's voice/pet habits rang through heavily enough to dilute that in places: starting so many sentences with 'but' or 'and' (a habit I share and am maybe over conscious about), fragments, over-saturation of similes & metaphors, etc.

I very much loved the tales and will be watching this author in the future! However, I hope she avails herself of a quality editor for future books. My issues are more with the editing than with the stories, because the stories are great! However, for grammar enthusiasts like myself, there are enough issues that it was consistently pulling me out of the stories. There are a lot of mis-used/missing commas, which kept me stumbling even though the stories themselves were propelling me forward. As mentioned, the writer ticks above also started really glaring for me. Especially the simile/metaphor issue! A well-done simile or metaphor is so subtle as to not even be noticed, unless it stands out due to extreme awesome. The first time or two that they jumped out, it was because of just that. “Wow, what an interesting way to put it!” But the more (and more, and more) that they started cropping up, they really went from shining to glaring to annoying. Similes (and metaphors) are like salt – used judiciously, they make nearly everything better, but use far too much and the effect is overbearingly obvious and leaves a bad taste.

I would have happily rated it much higher had the editing been better. I'd added the author to my 'spec fic writers to watch' list and undoubtedly look forward to reading more. However, it was a heavy enough issue that I actually went looking for info on the editors and publisher (who has NO info on their website as to who they are). If this is self-published, it's extremely well-done storytelling, and I don't want to diminish that at all, but a professional editor could have easily bumped it from 3 to 5 stars.