Thursday, 19 June 2014

Tale of Two Very Different Books

I've been keeping up with all my ARCs from NetGalley, and it was also lucky enough to receive a paper copy of a novel directly from the author! Here are my (very different) thoughts on two novels.

The main thing I am thinking having just finished Deep Blue is 'phew!' At least I can stop reading it now.

I thought I'd like this book. A story about merpeople, a world under the sea (I love the sea) with a high fantasy sort of plot line. I wish I'd read some of the other reviews before requesting this ARC from NetGalley, because if I had then I needn't have wasted time reading it.

Maybe I'm being harsh, but it really just didn't work for me. There was a huge amount of information dumping at the beginning, which was clumsy but still left me unsure of all the particulars of Donnely's world. There is a glossary at the back, which may have come in handy but, as I was reading it in kindle format, I didn't realise this until the end. But, really, I don't think my overall opinion would have changed.

The characters were... about as limp as the plot. We end with six mermaids, but we picked four of them up near the end and, as such, have zero emotional attachment to them, and they aren't developed at all. I suppose they will be in the sequels but I for one am not going to read any more of this!

To top it off, there were some issues with incoherent point of view switching, and a lot of 'telling' rather than 'showing.' (Eg. She was eating too many sweets. She did that when she was nervous. Like now.) The writing style overall was nothing special, and I was very distracted by all of the lame puns, like currensea for money. It felt quite childish, even though it was a middle grade read.

I don't like giving bad reviews, but I have to be honest. It gets one star - purely because of the awesome front cover.

Please note I received an ARC from NetGalley, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Quotes may be changed by the final published edition, which was released on May 3rd.

And onto my second review...

I have, unfortunately, some experience of general hospitals in the UK and for anyone wondering, YES - this is exactly what they're like.

Brindle has even unflinchingly, ruthlessly honest about what life is like for the nurses on the 'front line.' I'd like to think it was exaggerated, or that he was bitter (Brindle is an RGN himself) but it's just not the case. It really is that hard.

An Angel's Alternative follows the story of three nurses, - John Hunter, Dave Chiltern and sister Ashe - one Health Care Assistant, - Roxane - and a patient, Tom, as well as snippets of other people's stories. Sound like too many characters? Confusing? It isn't because the characters are well-defined, and point of view remains consistent until some sort of break in the text. This may sound like a stupid comment, but there are many novels where point of view shifting I the middle of scenes creates real confusion and chaos for the book.

Plot wise, it fell down a little for me - things were all a little too rosy at the end, and, also, I felt like there was so much more to tell! This book could have been longer; I wanted it to be! Additionally, I would have liked a bit more depth to Sister Ashe's portion of the story, as well as Roxanne's. The male characters took the lead most of the way through.

Overall, a good book, an honest book, and one that might be enlightening to many people. Slightly different structure (it felt quite like a memoir rather than a novel) and a bit longer would be even better!

Please note: I was kindly given a free copy to review by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

So, there we have it - two VERY contrasting books in terms of subject manner and whether I enjoyed them. I'd like to see what else Rick Brindle writes in the future, but I think I'll stay clear of Jennifer Donnelly...


  1. I had to DNF DEEP BLUE--it was not what I was expecting at all. I love mermaid books, but they can be very difficult to do well, and I'm not sure why! I thought this had a lot of potential because I like the author's writing, but it honestly felt more like middle grade than YA, and not very good MG at that. It's too bad--that cover really is lovely. I'm sorry you were disappointed, too.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. I almost DNF Deep Blue as well to be honest. I skimmed through a fair bit of it, very disappointing. Glad I'm not the only one though - thought I might be missing something!