Ames: Book One by Jeremy Whitehead
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
I'm afraid I'm going to have to be rather harsh on this one.
I don't like to think that grammar issues bother me because I'm fairly well-read in poetry and much is left to the reader's discretion, but after counting perhaps hundreds of misplaced commas, wrong words, clunky wording and odd repeats, I have to wonder if this manuscript is a first-draft. I can easily ignore 5 or 6 of them, and if the rest of the text is solid, I can totally ignore the fact that the commas are outside of the quotations, but there was just too much to ignore. It was difficult reading. The flow was constantly interrupted.
Now, assuming that I can get beyond that and focus right on the story, or, failing that, the interesting features of the world-building, I still have some major issues.
I love the basic premise of a big city of robots, but the two warring factions basically annoyed me to death right off the bat, Orwellian or not. I loved some of the action scenes and I thought the basic virtual reality premise and execution was interesting, but there was way too much filler. I didn't care so much about the robot's fascination with toilets. There's a lot more going on in the background for me to really care about a toilet, and that's just a single tidbit out of hundreds of prosaic bits that could be utterly excised in favor for interesting action and espionage and explosions and big mystery reveals, of which this book HAS PLENTY. I mean, right off the bat, there's enough big happenings going on that we can keep the pace up without issue and have a fast-paced, idea-rich, world-building adventure in half the pages. No problem. Instead, we have *actual* virtual world-building and a clunky romance that seems ridiculous while we've got the granddaddy of all AIs thrashing about the house and a cabal of other AIs gathering to destroy whole civilizations.
I mean, it could work, but it doesn't. And that's where my other main concern lay: the characters. They were cookie-cutters. They all sounded alike, and in one case that might be intentional, but I didn't believe for a second that one or the other was a super brilliant scientist or a mastermind genius AI able to overcome any obstacle. I'm told that they are. Repeatedly. But, again, this is where a second or a third pass on revision could have REALLY helped out. It's almost as if all these characters were placeholders for actions but they weren't really intended to be a vital part of the grand story except as an afterthought to all the world-building.
I'm not saying this couldn't be a great novel. I think it has potential to be a real blast! BUT, I think it needs the careful dedication of a serious editor. This release is too soon! Sorry.
I do, however, wish the author much luck!
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