Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen
The Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen is a book authored by a former cop named Lance Manley. The story centers around the journey of an eleven-year-old boy named Jared who is forced into the magical land of Algeria after his life is jeopardized by an otherworldly assassin. Like most characters who feature in "boy/girl is spirited away to a magical world" plots, Jared is just a regular kid. The bland normality of his run of the mill life is interrupted when visiting a hospital to celebrate the birth of a baby cousin. While there, Jared notices a strange presence in the room of a comatose girl named Sophie. Fearing that it might be someone who shouldn’t be there, Jared decides to investigate. Little does he know that Sophie—who was apparently injured in a car accident months prior—is actually the gateway to a magical world, in which she is queen!
I must admit, the premise of this story is very interesting. As I stated in my review of S.M.Boyce’s Lichgates, the "boy/girl is spirited away to a magical world" trope never really gets old. It can be used as a basis for an endless amount of plots and can take place in an endless variety of settings and locations. So naturally, this specific aspect of Manley’s story is immediately appealing. In addition to this well loved plot device, this story also explores the mysterious process of the mind of a comatose person—a really novel idea(ho, ho—punny!). However, I feel as though there were a lot opportunities missed with this book. My final impression of this story is that it was cute, but ultimately read like an un-edited first draft of a story that desperately needed a good editor’s touch. For starters, the story is plagued by typographical errors. These include misspellings, lack of proper punctuation (like periods and apostrophes), and reversed word order. In addition to these minor glitches, I also stumbled across quite a few awkward sentences. Some were in need of comma splices, while others were in need of commas. The words "but" and "again" were overused in a way that was almost irritating. Additionally, this story lacked quite a bit of exposition. In fact, there were times when the writing seemed to be leading into an exposition, only to veer into an entirely different direction. I don’t mind mystery in a book. In fact, half the fun is in the mystery. Presentation is everything however. Readers need to be given enough information to read on comfortably but they also need to be intrigued enough to want to continue. Another really sloppy and distracting mistake in this book’s format was the lack of transitioning devices. Many authors utilize symbols, lines, and even numbers in order to signify a transition. In The Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen, no such devices exist. In one paragraph you’ll be in one scenario and in the following paragraph you’ll suddenly be somewhere else. I understand that Melany was attempting to cover scenes—especially action scenes—from as many perspectives as possible in order to create a complete picture. However, the lack of transitioning devices as well as the use of small, stand-alone paragraphs produced the opposite effect. Where the picture should have been completed, instead it was fractured into a confusing mess.
Aside from the portions of the book’s story and format that frustrated me the core of story has a lot of potential. The world of Algeria is colourful and full of interesting creatures and the magic doesn’t feel like the run of the mill sort of magic that authors tend to throw into a story in order to make a fantasy. There was some thought behind it, though I did feel as though at times Melany was struggling to describe what he was envisioning. Personally, I feel as though the focus of this story should have been shifted more towards the character of Sophie than Jared—or at least split between them. As a character, Jared doesn’t really captivate the reader’s attention. The story isn’t told from his point of view, so readers don’t get the charming, snarky narrative that can be found in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan or the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. He was just entirely uninteresting, which is a shame because I think he could have been built up into a better character. Sophie, on the other hand, is interesting even though she is seldom seen doing anything in the story(naturally due to her coma). Perhaps if Melany had peppered his story with present narrative involving Jared and flashbacks involving Sophie the story would have taken on a new dimension and have been more interesting as a result. I’m aware that this isn’t a glowing review, but if you feel so inclined please download the free copy of this book. While it may have it’s flaws, the story glimmers of potential. Every author needs reviews as well—even if those reviews are to tell him or her where they might improve (watch me take this back if I’m ever published and receive a negative review).
Download link(edit: Somewhere during the time that I downloaded this book and read it, the story was returned to it’s original price for everyone but Amazon Prime members)