Tuesday, April 27, 2010


You know how they say that if you don't have anything good to say, you should probably just say nothing? I considered posting that aphorism and leaving my review of Allon by Shawn Lamb at that. But I realize that having said that, I should probably explain why I did not care for this book at all.

The biggest problem I had with this book was the sheer amount of telling that Lamb did throughout the pages as opposed to showing. We were told how characters felt. We were told in an abstract way what they were doing. I never felt connected to anything going on in this book. I didn't have any emotional investment in the characters or the story. Truth be told, I finished this book out of obligation. If I hadn't received a free copy to review, I would have stopped reading it after the first fifty pages.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. This story is about a young man named Ellis who learns that he is the rightful king of Allon. In the beginning of the story, he is spirited away to a forest sanctuary where he meets a young girl named Shannan. At first, apparently Ellis has no time for Shannan but then there's an incident that changes his mind about her. She saves him from a wild boar. This incident also is supposed to be the impetus for the eventual tepid romance these two will share. But here's the thing that frustrated me: this significant event is summed up in half a paragraph! We never see the incident at all! Given how pivotal this event is both in Ellis's training and his relationship with Shannan, it might have been nice to actually, you know, see it as it happens, not be told about it in a clinical, backstory kind of way.

The same is true for chapter three, which is nothing but telling. Apparently the wicked king sent out some warrior guy to subdue the kingdom and bring it all under his control. Now I get that chapter three is a summary of two years worth of events, but it was all glossed over so much that it read more like a history book than an adventure novel.

More problematic for me was the lack of good craft in this book. There were poorly constructed sentences, ranging from run-ons to poorly attributed pronouns. There were adverbs aplenty. And there were odd typos, such as a case where Lamb I think meant to say "dominant" but instead wrote "dominate." And while we're on the subject, it's "bear witness," not "bare witness." These grammatical and spelling issues grew worse as the story wore on.

Another factor that bothered me is the sheer number of characters. This book had a cast of hundreds! I think in the first fifty pages we were introduced to as many people. The story simply collapsed under the sheer weight of them all. It seemed like every other page, more and more people were poured into the story to the point where I simply stopped trying to keep track of them all.

Speaking of the characters, there was one other thing that really, really bugged me. In this book, God's name is apparently Jor'El. You know, maybe it's just me, but using the name for Superman's biological father doesn't strike me as a great idea.

And I'll just throw this out here because I'm not sure where else to put it: angelic euthanasia. Yeah. Not a fan.

To sum up, I did not enjoy this book at all. I'll give it a few points for some interesting mythology, but that's not enough to make me even remotely interested in any future books in this series. I know that others might disagree with my opinion, but there you go. There is a lot of great Christian fantasy out there that I'd rather read.

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