by Amanda Hocking
As someone who's self-published a couple of novels, I had of course heard of Amanda Hocking. She's one of the patron saints of "indie" publishing, someone who hit it big without going the traditional publishing route. I hadn't actually read any of her self-published books, so when I saw this on the Vine newsletter I decided to give it a try and see what the hubbub was about.
The answer: not much that I can tell. I've read more than a few YA paranormal type books int he last couple of years, both traditionally and self-published. This really seemed like a pretty bland offering compared to some I've read.
The bland plot revolves around Gemma Fisher--oh what a clever last name for someone who loves water!--who lives in a small Maryland town. She's sixteen and dreams of being an Olympic swimmer. She also goes out at night to swim in the cove, where she meets three hot young girls with weird names: Penn, Thea, and Lexi. No one really likes those girls or knows where they came from, but boy are they hot! Did I mention they're hot? Because it's only mentioned like all the time.
Anyway, the girls are evil monsters of a type that should be fairly obvious. And of course they want Gemma to go to the dark side with them. I wouldn't have really minded that since Gemma is dumb as a post. Even when she finds out what the Mean Girls are she doesn't do anything really to try and stop them. She doesn't even go on Google or anything to try and find out more about them. I mean come on, doesn't this quaint little Maryland town have DSL? None of the other characters seem any brighter.
The final payoff is slightly less disappointing than "Twilight." Just slightly. I can't think of any reason I'd want to read one sequel, let alone three.
As for the writing, you can take the girl out of self-publishing but you can't take the self-publishing out of the girl. Overall the writing is as bland as the plot. It features things like "head-hopping" during scenes, an abundance of -ing verbs, and plenty of adverbs, all the kind of things agents and editors warn authors about. That is unless said author has sold thousands of ebooks and then they have carte blanche.
Things didn't get off to a great start for my reading experience. The very first sentence reads, "Even over the sea, Thea could smell the blood on her." My immediate thought was, "Well of course you can still smell it if it's ON you." I think the author meant the smell of blood in a metaphorical sense. I'd just drop the last two words and then it would read clearer. There was also this great typo: "He even used to WATER Harper and Gemma when they were younger and their dad was busy." It's important to note Harper and Gemma are not petunias or Cocker Spaniels who would need someone to water them. I assume the author meant WATCH them. I wonder if the editor will bother correcting that or if they'll let it slide and take the easy paycheck.
Anyway, this didn't take long to read. You could probably read the whole thing over one day at the beach or something. I don't see any reason why you should, especially since the traditional publisher will charge much more than for Hocking's self-published books. You can get just as good as this for less than a buck. It's not a terrible book, just terribly mediocre.
That is all.