Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
(Book received free for review.)
When a self-published book is full of editing or format errors, the writing and story are usually of the same quality. Island Fire is the first self-published book I've encountered that, though it had many, many formatting errors, was really well written and had an interesting story.
A young adult book, it's set on a Hawaiian island. It follows what happens to a few teens after some kind of solar event causes all electronic things to fail, including knocking planes out of the sky.
The author does so many good things:
- She doesn't rush the story. So often writers jump right into the action and plot without taking the time to introduce their characters and setting. Neal has a wonderful sense of pace.
- Love triangles in YA books are usually horribly painful to read. Island Fire was one of the very few times I've not only not minded, but actually liked how it was handled. It was never annoying. Though the girl was undecided about which boy she liked, it was never drama for the sake of drama. (And she did something I've always wished these girls would do: She thought 'Why can't I just like them both?'.)
- Her characters were fully believable as teens, and yet not annoying. Too many YA books fail at this.
- She really knew her setting. Google tells me she's lived her life in Hawaii, and it shows.
Unfortunately the issues with formatting were just as numerous as the good points of her writing and story:
- Every couple pages, a paragraph would have a random line break in the middle of it.
- Random characters in the middle of line breaks, a short series of numbers or numbers and letters.
- The book's title randomly appeared at the bottom of the page now and then.
- The start of every new chapter was messed up. First letter on its own line and the rest of the line in randomly alternating caps and lower case. For example, the first chapter starts like this:
Ick WEBSTER HELd HIS BackPack close
The author credits a formatting service. I'd suggest she should try to get her money back. The formatting issues were depressing; the writing and story were so good, they deserved better than the format treatment they got.
Still, it's a book well worth reading. It's also a becoming-rare complete story -- while there's room for a second or third book if the author chooses to continue it, it's a self-contained tale. No cliffhangers, everything's wrapped up nicely. There were unanswered questions, but even though some were big ones, they were also less important. Everything character-related got tied up by the end of the story. (Edit: Belatedly I see it was marked "book 1 in Island Series", so I guess it will be continued. It's nice for the first book in a series to be a complete story though.)
I enjoyed Island Fire for many reasons, but all the format errors mean I have to rank it a 'liked' instead of 'loved'.