What I gleaned about the story: With Dad long dead and Mom succumbing to the disease he had tried to cure her of, it’s now up to young Ella to try to pull the family fat out of the fire. Unfortunately, a secret organization seems to have other plans for her.
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Note: The first scene was excellent, and I’m already beginning to trust this author. I feel like I’m in good hands.
Analysis: Several paragraphs and a couple of sentences in the second chapter are echoing. It isn’t extreme, but enough to distract me. It opens with two successive paragraphs beginning with “Ever since…” but in this case it’s done for stylistic effect, so I let that go, happily. Then there are a pair of “Mom”s, followed later by a pair of “I” sentences, and then a couple of “He”s, which is when I finally noticed the recurrences consciously. And now that I stop to look, there seem to be a lot Mom this and Mom that statements. They aren’t necessarily used as headwords each time, but a few more “she” or “her” or even “my mother” swaps would help enormously to break up the echoes.
Analysis: By the fourth chapter, the echoing headwords have gotten thicker, and since it’s a 1st POV story, it was only a matter of time before the two joined forces to bring out the gallop. I did this, I said. And then I did some other thing. I, I, I. The 1st person preoccupation continues a bit further down with a pair of successive paragraphs that start with “My.”
Note: I only just realized that this book is written in present tense, which I am already on record as disliking. This just goes to show that a good narrative can overcome a stylistic choice that feels very artificial to me. It only feels artificial when the writing is sloppy enough for me to notice it consciously.
Details: I love it when an author finds the just-so word for some element of their strange new world. So what would you call the place where dead people are buried by sprinkling their cremated ashes over the roots of newly planted trees? Did it occur to you to call it a “groveyard?” I love writing like this. And I wish I’d been there to see the beaming smile of self-satisfaction when she first had the idea.
Analysis: I’ve hit another stampede of “I”s, and simply can’t ignore them. So this brings my journey to a close on this one.
Note: Echoing was my primary bugaboo here, but aside from that the writing is excellent. The world-building seems really strong, the characters are well drawn, and one or two of the bits I read were emotionally affecting. So if echoes don’t really bother you, I suggest you check it out.