Monday, August 27, 2012

Unbelievable Narrator: Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Just the Facts:

Overall Rating:  2 ½ Stars
Addiction Level:  I read it when I had spare time.
Believe-ability:  Some aspects were real.
Dystopia Factor:  The world is starting to disintegrate.


I was not able to sit down and read Timepiece in one sitting, which could have contributed to my confusion, lack of interest, and dissatisfaction.  For me Timepiece did not deliver.
In Hourglass the audience discover that Jack is the bad guy/mastermind behind Liam’s death and other time-related crimes.  In Timepiece it becomes imperative to find Jack, because the powers that be are angry.  Life could cease to exist if Jack is not found!
As much as Emerson annoyed me, I was ready to step back into her world.  Instead I stepped in Kaleb’s.  That’s right, Kaleb is the protagonist.  I thought it would be cool to navigate this world through Kaleb’s point of view, but I had a difficult time believing and remembering it was Kaleb.  Every time I picked up the book, I would have to make a conscious effort to tell myself that Kaleb is the narrator.  It didn’t work very well; I found myself saying, “Why would Emerson say that?  Oh…yeah…it was Kaleb.”
This book suffers from second book syndrome.  It relies too heavily on what McEntire set up in Hourglass.  Timepiece cannot stand alone.  I was unsure of relationships, even of Michael and Emerson’s.  I love dialogue, but Timepiece needed more description.
I did enjoy more of the “Dr. Who” element and Lily’s rising importance.  The time travel mystery was exciting, and I am dying to know more about the various conflicts and their resolutions.  In Hourglass we only got a small glimpse of Lily.  In Timepiece her character is flushed out more.  What she can do is very intriguing. 
After reading, I feel eh.  I’ll read the third book, but I probably won’t buy it.  Here’s hoping for a better ending in book three.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sarah Dalton Interview

Apocalypse Reads:  Today we have Sarah Dalton, author of The Blemished, her first published novel.  Sarah, thanks for taking the time to do an interview with us.  What was your inspiration for The Blemished?

Sarah Dalton: I’ve always been interested in science fiction and genetics. I’m a big fan of Margaret Atwood’s science fiction novels and I wanted to create something similar for a teen audience. I wanted to give teenage girls an interesting heroine and a book which primarily deals with themes which are things that would affect them as they grow up – beauty, reproduction, love.

AR:  Why did you choose dystopia for the setting?

SD: I’ve loved dystopian books since reading 1984 and have read authors like JG Ballard and Ray Bradbury but it was when I read the Hunger Games that I knew I had to write a dystopia. I’d never seen it done for a teen audience before and it was at that moment that ideas started flying around my head.

AR:  How far away from this kind of world do you think we are?

SD: Oh, I don’t know! It would depend on science advancing very fast and a chain of events leading to the demise of democracy. It’s hard to know if genetics will ever be allowed to go this far. There are certainly a lot of moral implications but I think at the end of the day the human need for exploration and knowledge will force things along.

AR:  What are your favorite books/authors?

SD: I read a lot of varied genres. I love Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood and Theodore Sturgeon. But I also love Emily Bronte and Scott Westerfeld!

AR:  What character did you have the most fun writing?

SD: Probably Elena. She’s a complex character and I wish I could have featured her a little more. I am thinking of writing a short novella in her perspective because she’s such an enjoyable character to write.

AR:  Who was the hardest to write?

SD: Mina and Daniel were both hard to write. I didn’t want them to be caricatures of teenagers in love. We’ve seen enough passionate romances in YA fiction now. I wanted their relationship to be based on mutual respect and attraction. I wanted it to realistically show how hard it is for a teenage girl to recognize her feelings, especially a girl who has been told those feelings are forbidden! I hope that they show the subtle nuances involved in growing up in the world that they are forced into.  

AR:  I love that Mina takes responsibility for her actions.  How important was this as you wrote?

SD: Very. In fact, in the first draft Mina was much more impulsive and rebellious but it made her a difficult character to like. I think it’s important for a dystopian world such as The Blemished to have a character that the reader can relate to and actually root for. She isn’t perfect though! It’s a tough time being a teenager and it’s the time when you make the first real mistakes of your life. It just so happens that she’s had to grow up quickly and that helps her take some responsibility.

AR:  You decided to self-publish your first book.  Tell us a little about that.

SD: I didn’t want to at first because I wanted to see the book in print. But then I found out you could do that when self-publishing and that made up my mind for me! Dystopian fiction is at its peak right now and I knew that if I waited for a publisher it could take years and years. I was worried that no one would get to read the story. That’s really what I wanted – for people to read the story and enjoy it and hopefully come away feeling differently about the world.

AR:  What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

SD: There is so much! Write and read and write and read. You get better with practice. Format your book properly right from your first draft (google standard manuscript format). If you want to self-publish there are some things worth investing in – a cover artist and a proof reader.

AR:  Thanks for your time and stopping by!  One last question…When will The Blemished be published?

SD: Soon! I don’t want to give an exact date in case it takes longer than I set myself. But I can say that I’m finalizing my ebook formats with Amazon and Smashwords and am just waiting for the printers at Feed a Read to sort out the new version of the book. Follow me on twitter @sarahdalton or on my blog and trust me when I say I’ll be shouting it from the roof-tops when it’s finally published!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dystopian Adventure: The Blemished by Sarah Dalton

Just the facts:

  • Overall Rating: 5 Stars
  • Addiction Level:  I read it every waking moment and then started rereading.
  • Believe-ability:  I daydream about the created world and wonder how I fit in.
  • Dystopia Factor:  The world has been turn upside down and all hope is lost!
  • Favorite Quote:  “Once, my mum told me a story about a princess and it began with her stuck in a castle.  My story begins with my head stuck in the toilet.” Click to Tweet.

I really enjoy books that grab me from the start:  “Once, my mum told me a story about a princess and it began with her stuck in a castle.  My story begins with my head stuck in the toilet.”  Needless to say I wanted to know why this story started with a girl’s head in the toilet. 
Our protagonist Mina Hart is a “normal” person with genetic defect(s) somewhere in her family making her “blemished.”  This might be ok if people weren’t genetically engineered.  In Dalton’s society GEMs, those that are genetically engineered, have the upper-hand.  (For a complete synopsis, check here.)
Though Dalton combines many of my favorite dystopian books and movies into one, it does not seem cliché.  The Blemished has elements of oppression, rebellion, loyalty, friendship, betrayal, and survival.  What make is it unique is the strong female protagonist who owns her choices. 

What I loved:
  • The way Dalton drew me into the story with the opening line.
  • The fast-paced nature of the novel.  I barely had time to breathe while reading.  Danger and poor choices seem to lurk around the next page.
  • Mina
    • Though she is frustrating at times, I enjoyed her growth and ownership of her choices.
    • A dystopian novel does not seem to be complete without a love triangle.  Mina’s choice surprised me.  Read to see who she chooses.
  • Mrs. Murgatroyd aka Murder-Troll
    • She is revolting to look at:  “The collagen in her lips made her mouth baggy and shiny, like slugs inside loose skin.”  Ew!  She’s not hard to hate, but Dalton gives you glimpses of her true nature which made me question my hate.
  • Choice Ownership
    • It is refreshing to see Mina own her choices no matter how disastrous the consequences.
  • The Ending
    • Dalton ties up most of the loose ends.  I know this is the first book in a series, but I am satisfied with the ending.
Check out The Blemished by Sarah Dalton if you are looking for a fast-paced dystopian adventure!  Many thanks to Sarah for an ARC!