What could be more fitting, for my first book review, than to examine the writing of a first time author? Kindred spirits in a way, seeking to share our thoughts with the web-o-sphere, it seemed like the right step to take. I chose, for this my first attempt, a book by Joseph Eastwood entitled Lumen.
As I began to read, I fell in love with the setting and the mystical powers of a mysterious island and its ihabitants. The first few pages were packed with details that felt like elements of a favorite TV series being brought to life in a new and vivid way. As a long time fan of "Lost", I immediately had an exceptionally clear mental image of Templar Island; a place with esoteric qualities that no one 'off island' can properly understand. The author was off to a great start and had my attention.
Conceptually, the story is fantastic. The main character, Daniel, is a young man whose family is lacking in wealth and social standing. He is invited to study at a private academy for the most 'gifted' individuals on the island, despite the fact that his family is considered lower class and cannot finance his education. It is evident that the character is destined for greatness; he is the focus of the book, clearly the protagonist, and all odds are against him. Beyond the general framework for the main character, his pre-destined greatness, and magical interweavings- I have many issues with the book. The idea was fantastic and I wanted this review to go differently, but full disclosure of the goods and bads of this novel must be made. So far the goods: vivid setting and interesting concept.
The bads: I sent the author a message via his Facebook fan page detailing my concerns, which he said he would address. Perhaps he did and Kindle did not properly notify owners of the book of the change. I am not sure how post-publish changes are handled, but I completed my read using the first edition of Lumen. As I advanced through the book, towards the 3rd or 4th chapter, I began to stumble in my comprehension of the text. No, the writing was not too advanced for my capabilities, it was fraught (and I mean overflowing) with typographical errors.
The errors were so profound that I found myself needing to re-read passsages multiple times to infer the meaning. Not only were there spelling errors and incorrect verb tense choices, but the character would be in one location in one paragraph and in the next paragraph the location changed without explanation. Was he teleported there? Was he dreaming? Did he awake from a dream? I have no idea.
Additionally, I felt that character development was sporadic rather than organic. Facts were announced rather than woven into the story. A prime example is the character of Reuben, Headmaster of the Croft Academy (aka- academy for the magically gifted). He was 'nice' for the majority of the book. I mean sickeningly sweet nice. If he had alterior motives it was not clear (and did not even seem implied) that one should suspect him of such things. In all ways he seemed to be doing things to help the main character achieve greatness. He was at first a Dumbledore-eqsue figure. The comparisons were hard to miss: headmaster, seemingly counselor and friend to the school underdog, lets the underdog get away with things other kids would NEVER be allowed to do. See? Dumbledore. Right? But in the last handful of chapters he becomes something closer to Voldemort in his vain attempt to see Daniel dead or trapped for his own personal uses.
Inconsistencies and errors, in a story I desperately wanted to love, leave me feeling unsure if I will read more by this author. I know, it could be because he's new on the scene. However, I could not help screaming at my IPad: GET AN EDITOR!!! These are all things that need not ever happen! Mr. Eastwood, I know you are young and eager to publish and your thoughts are so fascinating that I REALLY want to see them on electronic paper. But I cannot put myself through reading something so full of obvious and fixable mistakes again, unless I am doing so as an editor. I want to review books for their story- why I loved or did not love the content of the message. I do not want to write a review about how poor your spell check was. My urging is this: create your magnificent worlds in such a way that I cannot bear to leave them, be careful, and most of all take your time. And, if you are in need a third, fifth, or one-hundreth pair of eyes- drop me a line.