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MORTAL GHOST

It’s character-driven, that’s for sure.

By Donna Sirianni, editor

Jul 31, 2008: To me, the entire premise of the story was the most interesting thing about it. The summary gives hints of action, suspense and fantastical elements that are all a driving force in any read (if that’s your thing, anyway). Unfortunately I feel this story doesn’t quite follow through on the intrigue it promises, at least initially.

I labored through the first five chapters, not just because they were enormously long (which they were) but because nothing happens. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Next to nothing happens. We see the MC, Jesse, and we see him living on the street and eventually befriending Sarah. His odd gifts are rarely mentioned and shown even less. If I remember correctly he has one dream about a fire in five (really long) chapters. Essentially what I read was a chronicling of Jesse eating, sleeping, walking, sweating and other various every day activities with hardly a hint to anything in the summary.

On top of all of that, there are glaring points of view shifts, tense shifts and scene shifts, all of which the author attributes to a stylistic choice, much to the chagrin of my education and subsequent student loan debt. Perhaps I missed the memo when such stylistically fatal flaws were given a rebirth but I really didn’t like it. I remember one scene where Jesse utilizes his power of uber-fantastico (my name for it, apparently he can be amazing at anything he can do, every 16 year old’s dream, right?) on a half pipe where he goes from a jump to walking in the grass in the next sentence. No segue, no nothing, as if there were a lapse in the space-time continuum. The sentences themselves are known to switch tense right in the middle. Can you tell I don’t like it when things that make my red pen twitch are used as "stylistic ingenuity"? If I didn’t know about this choice, and I didn’t when I read it, I would just think it extraordinarily lazy writing. Sorry but I don’t care what anyone else may liken it to; head hopping, abrupt scene shifts and tense changes are lazy writing, not a "stylistic choice." Not to me.

With that being said, it’s not all bad. It really isn’t. The prose itself is quite beautiful and elegiac. The descriptions of the surroundings and the characters and how they move has this fluidity about it that encapsulates you as you read it. It adds this shimmering edge to the world despite the fact that it really isn’t the nicest of places. It makes me want to keep reading not just for this but to find out what happens next with Jesse and Sarah and just what comes of his gifts and his dreams.

Unfortunately I’m not going to. I can handle long chapters; that’s not the problem. It’s much too slow-moving for me. Add onto that all of the writing issues I’ve stated before and I’m turned off regardless of how intriguing the blurb about it is. I know quite a few people that love this story and rave about it. I’m just not one of them.

If you can handle a storyline moving at a snail’s pace and different "stylistic" writing choices, then I’m sure you’d get through this story. This is a piece that I’d like to know what happens but I’ll stick to reading the Cliff Notes version.

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