September 27th, 2013
Edge of Truth by Natasha Hanova
I received this book through the referral of another author, who's book was recently read and reviewed by Libertad. Edge of Truth is a dystopian style young adult novel. It follows the exploits of Rena Moon and the world of Hollowcrest, a place where it's citizens are forced in line by an unseen authority named Overlord Andrick.
I read a bunch of dystopian books, plenty of books(more so than necessary) featuring Young Adult characters, and indie and traditionally published. It's one of the few this year that would look good on the big screen to me. It had some good and iffy points. I suppose the review will go into detail.
Things I liked:
I had no problem with the pacing. Pacing is almost always an issue for me, traditionally published or not. There weren't too many unnecessary scenes or chapters that failed to move the story forward. Certain points were more consistent than others, but the reliability of the story wasn't compromised by dead weight. I didn't find any important details predictable. Several events that pushed through the story seemed to follow a Three Act storyline, which was good.
I found that Rena was a relatable heroine. She had an ability that was very similar(unless I've interpreted it incorrectly) to a character in Avatar: The Last Airbender. For those of you not familiar with Toph BeiFong, she was an Earth bender, born blind. She was a prodigy earth bender. But wasn't she blind you ask? Toph was an earth bender who literally saw with her feet. She can feel emotions, sense lies, she could even predict who and how many followed, all through the sensation from the ground. She was pretty much the three B's. Blind, barefoot and bad ass. Rena isn't an earth bender, but was born an "other." In their society those born "others" were people born with abilities, and were wise to keep their mouths shut about it, or else.
Rena was also like most girls, I assumed she was attractive, but not sure of her worth. Most girls struggle with this, and through their own personal journey, find their worth. Rena had all of that.
There were several points of conflict, that pushed the story in motion. They seemed well thought out, with the appropriate amount of romance and action. I found it unique in the way the main love interest(which there appeared to be two) in my opinion seemed to be Black, or at the very least mixed race. I want to say POC generally make it to the end of the world, but judging by dystopian novels, you'd think only non POC make it to the end. I was glad to see, or at least interpret that the object of affection was a Black male. More on that when I reach diversity in my review. They also seemed to have their own jargon, as they often used words and phrases unique to their own world. Pretty cool :)
Grammar wise, there weren't huge issue with the language of the book, but i'll explain issues with the writing style later in the review. There weren't too many grammatical errors, but one small thing I did notice, was Nevan(love interest) a boy with dreads, once referred to his hair as braids. Rena had braids, so perhaps this was just a mistake of the eye.
As far as diversity went, characters seemed, outside of Rena's best friend, mixed race. Im not saying they were, Im not saying they aren't, but through their features, I interpreted many to be mixed race. I suppose that fits, if anything, a dystopian world is going to reflect a future of race mixing, more so than an atypical "default" white world.
I was told Rena was Black, but she seemed mixed race. Her freckles were brown, so if she were Black, she was most likely fair. She had braids, which I interpreted to be box braids, and you don't see a ton of white women braiding their hair in the way WOC might. I pictured a younger Laya Lewis from Skins(with braids of course), as she's the first Black/Biracial female to come to mind with freckles.
Mind you, I was told she was Black, but Im almost certain she is someone who is half black, half another race. Her love interest Nevan, also seemed mixed race. He wore long dreads, and had heterochromia(one hazel and one blue eye). He wasn't described very dark, so I pictured Jesse Williams(whom is half white and half black) with dreads.
Since it seemed more focused on the story, than the races of the characters, it did seem rather effortless. Which is probably why I prefer multiculturalism in Speculative fiction and SFF. It lets it be known that characters aren't a "default" but moves on. I have to thumbs up on Nevan, as he was my favorite character. I think the only time I see Black or mixed race men in books, are when they're criminals, bullies or in erotica and fetishized. It was nice to see a guy who was essentially just a boy next door.
The cover fit, which is why I assume Rena was mixed race. It gave me a glimpse of the world, and Rena. The Title of the book seemed fitting, as I had no issues with that. Character names were unbelievable. I honestly look for more than just your average Luce, Elizabeth, stuff like that. They had some seriously crazy names. Some people hate that, but the crazier the better. Perhaps because my name isn't very common, I relate better to nonconventional names!
The things I found issue with:
I tried to imagine the world, but I had trouble doing so. Perhaps the cover contradicted what my mind saw. But the world-building was good, I just couldn't picture Hollowcrest. I really try hard not to compare dystopian books to each other, so my mind will usually fight with the settings i've seen in other dystopian books, so maybe this is just me.
I tried to gain more about the world through watching out for the development of the backstory, and I just couldn't. This wasn't a major issue, it was just one of the things I couldn't compliment.
Grammar wise, I mentioned earlier I had an issue with the language/writing style of the book. Several times the book "told" vs "show." I'll give two examples, though it was something I saw several times in the book. "She gave him her best 'Don't know what you're talking about' look" and "The 'how could you miss it?' look implied in her tone". I don't think a book has to show vs tell 100% of the time. But these were good examples of times where body language and emotions could have shown me more than a sentence describing the emotion, stance or look. Showing gives a reader the choice to make their own judgement. Telling forces the reader to one solution, and many readers could have different interpretations from showing vs telling.
Sometimes I also felt as though the balance of dialogue and beats weren't level. There were times it seemed as though characters sat around looking at each other, as opposed to saying anything. This wasn't a major issue, and to be honest wasn't very frequent, but it was another thing I couldn't give the point for.
Lastly sometimes more characters were described more than others. Rena was someone I had to picture off the cover, and a birdie on my shoulder who interpreted that she was Black as well. But I was never really sure, which is why I assumed she was more racially ambiguous than just a single race. She didnt seem to worry about the sun as much as her redheaded best friend, and "ash" on her skin was a concern to her. This sounds weird, but since Im in an interracial relationship, it just seems like being "ashy" doesnt concern White people the way it does POC. The boys seemed to get more shine than the girls did, as far as their descriptions. Just something I noticed.