Sky Ghosts: All for One by Alexandra Engellmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thanks to the author for providing me a copy for an honest review.
This book gets it right in the end. Good finale, good action, good eventual character development, even a nice celluloid ending. I was consistently reminded that I was probably reading a video game script during the last 40% of the novel, and that's not a bad thing in my estimation. There's some pretty good video games out there. We have firmly established that the Sky Ghosts are superheroes battling the other super group, the Beasts. Very comic-y.
If you like Urban Fantasy and expect snark as a matter of course, the novel has it, too. It may not be the best snark I've ever read, or even making it into the top 20, but it is snark. It tends to bring the apparent age of the characters down to the mid-teen level instead of the 17+ range that they're actually in, so I get the impression it's actually YA. It probably isn't, but that' just my impression.
Now, for the bad. The opening was fine, although I could have done with a few better character hooks to make them stand out better and keep my interest. Almost immediately after the rescue, I was dismayed to find out that I was going to be reading about a bunch of fairly well-behaved college freshmen in dorm, doing a bit of light exercise, playing video games, reading magazines, taking showers, and doing nothing else except joshing around with each other. As a means to get to know the characters and flesh them out, it was slow and annoying, and perhaps there's a lot of people out there that like this kind of really light entertainment, but I kinda expected a lot more out of a novel that has peeps with freaking SUPER POWERS based on nothing more handwavium-powered than simple WILLPOWER (and a bloodline). There was only one briefly terrifying event that mostly happened off stage, and then we're treated to a new setting. No more dorm. We get to do a bit of light exercise, play video games, read magazines, take showers, and do nothing much else than joshing around with each other AT A FARM. And that's just about it for the first 60% of the novel.
There are much better ways to develop characters than have them tell me, the reader, that they're bored. If THEY are bored, then what the hell do you think the READER is? A HUGE editing session would have been absolutely delightful. Pacing is truly a reader's joy.
The last 40% of the novel was good. Action, character development, twists, they're all there. It kept my attention just fine and never once did I wonder why I was still reading. That kind of polish and plot and development should have been active from the very beginning.
Unless, of course, the novel is designed to appeal to the early college crowd exclusively, directly tapping into the banal normalcy of waiting for your next assignment while nothing much of anything happens except snark with your friends. I'm sure there's a market for that. It seems to happen a lot in certain novels these days.
Don't get me wrong. I like a good snark. It's just not enough to carry more than half a novel, especially if it's not absolutely brilliant dialog.
Overall, I didn't think the novel was bad. I did actually find myself wishing that I had a good infodump of some sort to chew on while nothing much happened. A bit of worldbuilding or even just seeing a bit of New York (where most of it took place), would have given it some spice. Hell, I still don't know why the Sky Ghosts and the Beasts fight each other. The beasts rob people. Okay. Sky Ghosts stop them. Okay. That's... just... okay. Truly barebones. At least I knew where I ought to have stood, even if I didn't quite care beyond the impact of the characters... eventually.
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