Thursday, 14 June 2012

Book 48 of 2012: The Fall

I was attracted to the description of The Fall by David L. Dawson because it sounded like something I would pick up and read myself anyway. Set in a post-apocalyptic future and aimed at young adults, The Fall tells the story of Ben, a young man who has just returned home after his ‘Journey’, a sort of coming-of-age ritual which signifies a youngster becoming an adult member of the community. His home is the shell of a shopping centre complex, of which his father presides over as Mayor; the outside world is dangerous, home to a hybrid breed of creatures known as ‘Felum’ (a sort of human-feline cross) but also to the cause of the world’s destruction.

Years before the story starts, Gods come to Earth, they engage with battle with each other, not caring for the homes and people who get in their way and cause untold amounts of destruction. While most people are scared of the Gods, fearing the death and destruction that they inevitably bring, there is a group called the Order of Power who worship the Gods. This would probably be okay if they kept themselves to themselves, but instead they capture non-believers and reprogramme them to make them members of the Order too. Suffice to say, the world is really not a safe place.

Ben role on returning from his journey is set to get married, settle down and start a family and learn the Mayoral ropes from his father, as the only surviving son, that’s his destiny. Unfortunately, Ben’s trying to work out exactly who he is and what it is he wants from life, having quite enjoyed the freedom his Journey gave him. That and the fact that several members of his family appear to be involved in a secret which it’s going to be Ben’s job to uncover.

I really liked the premise of this book and Dawson does a brilliant job of setting up the world. It’s set in the UK, so there are place names which are immediately recognisable as well as little nods to the past, such as the ‘Marks and Spencer’ sign that hangs above Ben’s home. You get these little glimpses of worn out world which has been forced to move on and adapt to a new way of life.

The social structure is different to our world at the moment. Once a child has returned from their Journey, they are viewed as an adult and move into their own place. They take on adult responsibilities and are expected to start considering who they will marry, all of which takes place at a much younger age than would be expected. There’s no issue with homosexuality either, two women happily discuss whether their child will be a boy or a girl; Ben’s best friend has two fathers. I liked that part of the plot involves Ben struggling with his sexuality, and then struggling with the fact that the person he likes doesn’t share his feelings. It’s a nice touch.

It reminds me in some ways of the sort of story my brother used to write, he could come up with some brilliant sci-fic or fantasy stories and something about this reminded me of what he’d let me read. I imagine it would have appealed to him a few years ago when he was in his mid-teens. It’s not a long book either, a nice quick read which I think would go down well with most teenagers.

Although I really enjoyed the story itself, the formatting left a lot to be desired. I’ve commented before on the fact that I like my ebooks to resemble real books, this one felt like something that would be read online. Rather than book formatting it has what I think of as ‘internet formatting’ the sort of thing you see here on this blog; double-line spaces between paragraphs and no indentation at the start of a new paragraph. Chapters also started right there in the middle of the page and only Chapter 24 was set up as a selectable chapter in my Kindle ‘Go To’ menu option, so the only way you could get to a page was to find it via location number. Occasionally you’d also get a break in the middle of a line, particularly confusing during speech because I found myself wondering if this was a new speaker and the line was missing its punctuation, or if this was a continuation of the previous speaker.

I suspect that something a bit hinky happened during the formatting process when whatever needs to be done to a text to make it an ebook was done. There was something very odd going on with the punctuation in this book. Almost every full stop was double, as in ‘. .’ At first I thought it was done for effect, the story is told from Ben’s point of view, so I assumed that these were Ben’s thoughts coming slowly. But that’s obviously not the case, occasionally you’d get one at the end of a sentence and then its twin would be away on the next line, it was very random. I found myself more or less able to tune it out as I went along but it was very distracting and I was tempted to put it down and read something else when I realised what was going on.

It could also do with a good proof-read. As I read, I made notes on the little things that were jumping out at me as being incorrect or not sounding quite right. By the end I had made twenty-one notes and partway through I’d reined myself in and only allowed myself to comment on the things that really got to me. There were lots of missing words, poorly punctuated sentences and quite a few random tense changes which you would expect to have been picked up on before distribution.

This book is the first in the God Slayer’s trilogy and there is an excerpt from the beginning of the second instalment at the end of The Fall. Honestly, if it was as badly formatted as this book, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. I got my copy of The Fall for free and I would have been disappointed if I’d paid for it. That said, I do love the idea of the story and I would be curious to see where the next books take Ben, I just hope that he meets an editor along the way.

"The banner over my own home inside the House is the only one left that is legible, it reads "Marks and Spencer" It had sold various items of clothing and other odds and ends. ."Location 378

1 comment:

Let me know what you think. :-)