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Not Bad. A lot of unrealised potential
on 21 April 2015
Book Review: Planet Urth
by Jennifer & Christopher Martucci
Reviewed by J Bryden Lloyd
Writing Style – 3.0/5.0 (Okay)
Personally, I don’t think the First Person narrative really did this story any favours, but that aside, I felt the flow of the writing was a little erratic in the early part of the book.
It really did get to the point where I began to consider going no further, purely because the plot (although interesting) really wasn’t going anywhere.
The book does settle and improve, but in fairness I think there will be a good number of potential readers who may switch off rather than stick it out to the end.
As positives go, the action sequences are well drawn and bring a hint of genuine ability on the part of the author, but whether that is enough for you as a reader, is going to be greatly down to your own personal tastes.
Character Development – 3.5/5.0 (Good)
There is a real element of tedium in the restrictions on the characters. Avery is very good as a lead character and there is a nice balance of information from past and present which builds her into something with great potential but not enough strength to make her likeable.
I didn’t really connect properly with her, despite some hard work on the part of the author, and equally I didn’t find any traits of interest in the younger sister, who (despite the obviousness of their lives and situation) feels very two-dimensional against her older sibling and for vast sections of the book offers very little other than supporting dialogue and a worrisome distraction to Avery.
Admittedly, these are personal observations and I can’t really slam the author for his efforts in creating these two girls and building them into a pair of (eventually) very readable characters.
The later additional characters are introduced with a more passing flair, and this works well, bringing them into the story and building just enough to keep the read interesting and plot flowing.
Descriptive – 4.0/5.0 (Very Good)
In a work with few characters to anchor the storylines to, the descriptive very much becomes king.
There are flashes of excellence throughout this book, but occasionally these were offset by some almost forgettable dialogue. This became a frustration more than anything else, as I had so wanted the dialogue to support and embellish the descriptive and unfortunately, this did not happen often enough.
In contrast, the world-building and scene-craft was of a very high standard. It was easy to visualise the places and the actions, making the majority of the author’s efforts very enjoyable.
Language & Grammar – 3.5/5.0 (Good)
There were a variety of minor edits needed in most of the chapters. A lot of this was down to comma usage and the occasional repetition within conjoining sentences. Simple to correct but awkward on the reader.
Word selection was reasonable, but to be fair, given the plot scenarios and the lack of depth in the main characters, the author really did give himself a fair old mountain to climb at times.
Plot – 3.0/5.0 (Okay) – NO SPOILERS
This is a lengthy, heavy opening for what could have been a far more engaging read. As a series writer myself, I understand the need to introduce and set up your characters for the long-haul, but this was too much.
By the time things really did begin to move (although these are not plot-advancing elements of the story) I was mentally exhausted from a number of benign, empty scenes.
From there, I felt a number of plots were suddenly introduced together, and this made the whole book feel rushed and disorganised. But despite this, it finally felt like it was heading somewhere and like it or not, that was a huge positive.
As a reader I found myself asking where the author had been hiding all this much better stuff, as the plots began to build and finally drive the story.
Too little too late? Perhaps. But certainly a massive improvement on what came before.
General – 3.0/5.0 (Okay)
As an opening part, this does tick a lot of boxes. As a great, highly recommended read, unfortunately I don’t think it does.
Yes, there is some excellent descriptive. Yes, the action scenes are beautifully conceived and presented. Yes, there is a nice hook to the ending. And, yes, there is huge potential for where the story could go next.
On the other hand, there are a number of things that didn’t work for me personally…
This is not an excessively long book, and yet more than half of the work is ‘lost’ in needless, negative character building and uninteresting scenes which each provide the tiniest snippet of useful information or progress. The dialogue at times is a chore to read, and I found myself often resisting the temptation to flip a page or two just to escape it.
Along with this, there are several ‘leaps’ in reality that feel awkward. Although they add to the interest and pull of the story, most changes are put down to evolution, where perhaps mutation should be implied.
All in all, a difficult set of elements to judge, but even so, this is not an unreadable book. It is not easy to read and you have to go into it with that in mind, not expecting cover-to-cover action or large-scale tribal warfare. You won’t get that.
What you do get is very competent, with some very stylish descriptive, which serves as the launch vehicle for the following books. This may or may not be your cup of tea. Admittedly, I am undecided based on this single part, but I may be tempted to try out the next instalment to see where it goes.
3 Stars. Not bad but could have been much, much more.