Wings to Redemption is a techno-spy novel primarily set in San Francisco. I selected this novel from Book Club Reading List to participate in our France book poll. Given the book’s description, “You will travel the twists and turns from Sydney to Paris,” and the book poll title, “Let’s Tour France”, I mistakenly expected France to play a larger role in the story line. Notwithstanding, San Francisco offers a nice backdrop to a story. So, we’ll file this one under United States.
Unfortunately, the accolades for this book end with its setting. It’s clear that the authors put a lot of work into the novel, so it’s with a heavy heart that I give it such a low (and honest) rating. The authors were nice enough to send me two signed copies to be distributed as trivia prizes to members of our book club. However, after slogging through the first few chapters, I knew I couldn’t introduce this book. If you are still considering purchasing this book after reading my review, I would suggest purchasing the ebook. I found the paperback’s font-size and paper to be too difficult to read. As such, I opted to download it to my Kindle, helping to offset the author’s cost of sending me the books. For good measure, I passed along one of the copies to a friend who is an avid reader. After three chapters, she said she arrived at many of the same conclusions you will read below.
In today’s self-publishing boom, I find fiction is often written for either the pleasure of the reader or the pleasure of the writer. In my opinion, Wings to Redemption was written for the author’s pleasure with little regard for the reader. During the initial 45% of the book, I found myself in a constant struggle of conscience. Should I abandon it or persevere through to the end? Given the overwhelming support this book garnered in our book poll, I decided to continue pushing forward, despite the internal battle that raged every 2-3 pages begging me to put it down and move on.
Roughly halfway through the book, glimmers of hope began to emerge. The writing showed modest improvements, which kept me hanging on for another 30%+. By this point, it became clear that I had lost all interest in the characters and story. I was no longer rooting for Alex Boudreau to rescue Ben and resume their love affair. Instead, I was rooting for the authors to show more signs of improvement. In reality, the author never got me invested in Alex, her love affair, and the struggles she faced with her own honesty. Around the 87% mark, it was obvious that I was using this book as a sleep aid replacement and decided it was time to terminate agent Alex Boudreau.
Here are my main issues with the story:
- Dialog – This is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. I found the dialog to be stilted, painfully so, and rarely leading anywhere. Every word doesn’t have to be spelled out. Letting readers fill in the blanks allows their own imaginations to participate and invest in the story (i.e. less is more). Occasionally, the language didn’t seem to match the character. One example that comes to mind is Alex’s younger sister, Christina, a terminally ill eight year old child who is described as being in enormous physical pain, yet able to speak full sentences in a voice that sounds older in age when refusing food. Most kids in pain would wave food away with their hand and grimace.
- Characters – Too many characters are thrown at readers early on without much background information stringing them together. When they rejoin the story toward the end, readers are forced to play catch up to figure out who these people are. This spreads a reader’s attention thin, leading to weak character and story line development.
- Point of View – Point of view changed too often, sometimes changing multiple times within the same paragraph. This causes confusion (i.e. who’s thinking or speaking now?).
- Love Story – The development of Ben and Alex’s love affair was thin at best.
- Narrative – It often felt like the reader is in the head of the author, and he’s having a casual conversation that doesn’t make for good reading.
It’s easy for an author to get caught up in letting the creative juices flow. However, I think these authors would have been well served to re-read each section and honestly ask if it was something that was more fun to write than to read. Not everything that is fun to write ends up being fun for others to read. In fact, most things that we need to get out, are not fun for others to take in.
I want to use this review to address an important topic—ethics. In this new era of publishing and online marketing, it’s increasingly difficult for readers to figure out what is worth their time and money. This is why book reviewers have become an important resource for the reading community. It’s also the reason why reviewers must adhere to a strict code of ethics to ensure they are providing honest reviews. I hate to pick on this book any more than I already have, especially since most authors are struggling to get their books out there. However, after reading through the book’s reviews on Amazon, it is my opinion that some of these reviews may have been traded or purchased. I think it’s important that authors also adopt a strict code of ethics when it comes to marketing. Authors need to avoid the temptation of trading a few near-term sales for the opportunity to build a rapport with an audience and gain honest feedback that helps them improve their writing. Write a quality product and it will last a life time. Once you do that, the sales will come.
It’s not fair to state such an opinion without providing any evidence that led to such conclusions. Here are a few reviews on Amazon that seem suspect.
In addition, if you dig into some of the Amazon Reviewers, you’ll see that every review they give is 5 stars. These look like reviewers for hire. Amazon needs to put an end to this practice. In the end, I am giving this book one beach umbrella.