Purenet, by HJ Lawson (5:32)

IOD-PurenetToday we see that alternating between “I” and “I’ve” is not enough variety to break up a headword echo.

What I gleaned about the story: An unnamed protagonist girl wakes up on what will be her last day living in the juvenile creche. Soon, she’ll be old enough to live on her own and make babies for the government.

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WTF #1: Inconsistent voice

Analysis: The story appears to be written in present tense, but inconsistently. For example, here’s the opening paragraph: “Ladies, time to wake up. We need to be at the gate in one hour,” Madam Enid announces, interrupting my sweet dream of running around outside in the crisp, green fields. I could almost feel the sun’s rays beaming down on my face as if they were real. The second sentence is clearly present tense, but the third is clearly past tense. And since this comes in the opening paragraph, it takes the full charge.

WTF #2: Continuity problem

Analysis: I cannot wait till I’m seventeen… Then I will be classed as an adult, and I can move out of the dorm and be home with my mother. I will be sad to leave the girls, as they have been my family for all my life. She then goes on to talk about how much her mother needs her. But if she’s lived all her life in this child-rearing creche or whatever it is, why would she have any emotional connection to her mother at all?

I suspect that the “all my life” might have been figurative, rather than literal, but at this early stage of the game, readers tend to take things literally, unless some clue is given to the contrary. After all, we’re sucking up every hint we can find to help establish the world, so throwing us a clanker at the outset can be quite a bit more damaging than it would be later in the story.

Note: Further into the book, we are told that children are taken from their mothers at birth and donated to the state, so the “figurative” explanation doesn’t hold up, and now I’m even more confused about why she would have any bond with her mother.

WTF #3: Echoing headwords

Analysis: Four “I”-sentences in a row. One of them was an “I’ve” but contractions like that are generally not enough to break up the echo effect. I’ve seen this before, in other books. Echoes with “They” and “They’ve,” or “She” and “She’d.” If that’s as bad as it gets, I can often look past it, but when the echoes are already present and noticeable, throwing in an occasional contracted variant isn’t enough to get my radar to quiet back down.

The Group, by Kevin R. Doyle (9:30)
Ghostoria by Tam Francis (8:16)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That’s why he writes.