Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Dead God's Wrath: A Review

Review... what a dreaded word. Seriously. We all want them, but we're all scared to get them. And to give them. But, really, there's nothing more important to an author's success than reviews. Well, other than writing the book to begin with. It's like waiting to see what your grade is on a term paper. It's a topic I'm going to have to start talking more about. What a review is. Why it's important. However, this isn't a post on the topic of reviews, although, perhaps, I should have done that post, first. Be that as it may, this post is a review. And, speaking of getting grades on a term paper, I think that's the format I'm going to use when I do reviews.

So my buddy, Rusty Webb, the guy that did the spectacular cover for my book, is also a writer. Just in case you haven't picked that up, yet. He has his very first (written) offering for the public available for the Kindle. He also did the cover for this one:
You can find over on Amazon for the low, low price of just $0.99. The real question, of course, is should you buy it?

So... let's get into that, then.

I give A Dead God's Wrath a good, solid B. And just to clarify that, a B means it's better than average. I'm not a big fan of average, and I wouldn't tell you to spend your money, even a buck, on something that's just average.Wrath, though, at a dollar, is a good buy. Even if it is short. That just means you can sit down and enjoy it all in one sitting. If you happen to like westerns, I'd say it's a must buy item.

My first impression of Wrath is that it's kind of Jonah Hex (not the movie) meets Neil Gaiman. It just had that Gaiman kind of feel to it. The everything seems normal except that something's just kind of "off." It can be hard to tell, at first, with Gaiman, exactly what that is, and I had that same sense with Rusty's work.

Rusty paints a clear picture of the environment without getting too detailed about it. There's just enough there to put the image in your mind, and, really, that's all that's needed. The dialogue is good. The pacing is great. The hero, Thomas, is realistic. He's a man up against odds that he can't beat, and Rusty never resorts to pulling some unbelievable super human feat  out of his hero's nether regions to please the audience. The hero's heroism is that he faces up against a situation that he knows he has no way of overcoming, but he does it anyway. The act of a true hero. "I know I'm going to die, but I have to do this." Thomas is the guy we aspire to be, but most of us aren't.

The western story is spiced up with just a little bit of mythology. Or, maybe, it's science fiction. It's a little hard to tell within the confines of the story, but that's okay. We don't know because Thomas doesn't know, and that's how it should be.

However, the story does break down a little bit for me at the end. The first thing is that I expect that the title will make sense (in any story) by the time I get to the end. When I finished Wrath, though, I had no clearer understanding of what the title means than I did when I started it. It's a great title, though; I just don't know how it relates. It's clear that there is more to the world than what's in this one story, so, maybe, if I knew more, it would make sense. As it is, though, it leaves me feeling like I missed something, and, maybe, I did, although I don't think so.

Likewise, the reader never gets to find out what was really going on in the story. In and of itself, that's fine with me. I don't need to know everything to enjoy a good story, especially if I know there's a larger story going on, and this is just a piece of it. Basically, if the character I'm viewing the story through doesn't get to find out, I'm okay with not getting to find out. However, there is an attempt at an explanation right at the end that just falls a little short of making anything clear. From the character's perspective, I like what happens here, because it has to do with his denial of the events he's witnessed. From the reader's perspective, though, I wasn't satisfied. I felt like all of that should either have been left out entirely, or it should have been given to us in a way that the reader could get it without Thomas understanding. Rusty dances around somewhere in the middle of those two things which left me feeling sort of like I can imagine I would feel if I was watching Star Wars: A New Hope for the very first time and someone turned it off just after they escape from the Death Star. You know they got away, but you would also know that the story wasn't really resolved.

It's still well worth the read, though, and it does leave me wanting Rusty to go back to it and give us more from that world. It's clear there's more. That's really the best way to tell if a story has done it's job. Does it leave you wanting more? Or to hear it again? And I definitely want to know more about what's going on in Rusty's sci-fi western world.


  1. I definitely have to read that at some point.

  2. Has it been left open so that Rusty could write another book in the same world do you think?

  3. Andrew - thanks for taking the time to read it. Very perceptive criticism of the ending. I fretted over it a great deal as I was writing.

    @Sarah - I do have other stories to tell in the same universe. Probably not a good idea to leave anyone scratching their head at the ending regardless though. But it is what it is.

  4. As a soldier in the writer campaign, I salute you.

    Congratulations on putting your novel together, from cover to type solution to formatting, it's an Odyssey.

    I agree that reviews are terrifying. Distilling years of someone's labor to a few short paragraphs seems woefully disrespectful. For those reasons I generally dislike reviewing books myself.

    Best wishes on your writing.

  5. Rogue: Yep, you need to do it! It's short enough to sit down and do in one sitting, and, for the price, there's no reason not to.

    Sarah: Well, see Rusty's comment.

    Rusty: Oh, well, you know, I'm nothing if not perceptive. heh Most of the time. Actually, back in high school, my friends all used to hate going to movies with me because I would point out flaws that they wouldn't notice and, basically, lessen the movies in their eyes. Eventually, I learned to keep my mouth shut.

    Michael: It is! Because, really, almost everything is just average or not even average.

    AE: I agree that boiling down what someone else has spent a lot of hard work on is not necessarily a pleasant thing. But, since getting my own book out there, I've learned it's a necassary thing. Well, if I want it to sell, at any rate. An unreviewed book is a book that sits and gathers dust.