I had not intended to review this book, nor even read it. I’d read a bit of the sample months ago, and put off by the beginning and the cover, hadn’t bought it. See, I do judge a book by the cover, because it’s a barometer of how much effort and knowledge went into the book. A sloppy, amateur cover indicates poor writing, I have learned, so it takes something special to get me past that. With this book? The something special was getting to know the author. After a while I was convinced that I needed to give Amy Lynn by Jack July a second chance.
The beginning is very rocky. The book opens in media res, but not onto action, just into the internal musings of the main character. You aren’t given much in the way of a clue as to what is going on for at least a chapter. Fortunately, once you hit chapter two it starts to make more sense. At this point I was drawn into the tale enough that I kept immersion easily, and enjoyed the rest of the read.
So now you know the bad… the rest is good. This is a solidly plotted tale, a narration of a young woman’s coming of age in a different era, an unusual setting, and occasionally improbable events, but nothing that makes her seem too much like a golden girl. She goes through a lot, including violence to her person that is handled very well. I was worried when I saw it coming, but the author manages to skip through it, careening off some emotion without being heavy-handed or glossing over the trauma. This is not in any way a young adult story, and it’s not a book I’d hand to my daughters.
Last week I reviewed the JL Curtis books, the Grey Man series, and compared them to Clancy. This book has that same feel, of a narration of events. I’m not sure in the author is former military, it certainly feels that way with the writing style, and this seems to be a consistent ‘feel’ of veterans who become authors. I see it in The Amazon Legion by Tom Kratman, which I am midway through reading right now. These books aren’t about bringing characters to life, but all about the plot. The things that happen are detailed, well-described, and rooted in the setting. The people aren’t cardboard, but they are a little harder to bring to life from the page, walking and talking. I suspect some of that is masculine rather than feminine brain. Which, in light of reading The Amazon Legion, where Kratman is doing much more biological, sociological, and psychological commentary than he is telling a story (and it’s heavy going to read, but fascinating), makes a whole lot of sense. Guys and girls don’t think alike. Not unequal, just different. The military background all these authors share undoubtedly contributes to that style.
I enjoy it, usually. There are times I just want a bit of froth to read, something I don’t have to think too much over. I will be appearing on an author panel next week alongside two other people I’ve never met, and in preparation for that, read one of the panelist’s books. Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown is about as girly a book as you could ever hope for. It was enjoyable, if the female character did rather set my teeth on edge with her air-headedness and obsession with solving a murder (but it’s a cozy, what else could she be doing?) in the silliest possible ways. I’d rate it as a bon-bon book, like the ones I used to retreat to a long bath with (only those were disposable paperbacks, in case I ever fell asleep and dropped one).
Up next week? I think I have a Kal Spriggs book to read, which I anticipate enjoying, and a non-fiction book on slavery off the Barbary Coast. And oh, yeah, a Brad Torgerson. Hmmm… must be careful not to neglect my homework!