Review of ‘Untethered’

3/5 stars

*Thank you to the author for providing a free copy for an honest review.*

First off I want to say how refreshing it is to read an Indie author who understands how to write in deep POV, this one being 1st person. It can be done in 3rd as well. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, deep POV is a technique of writing that strives to thin line between reader and character by eliminating author narrative as much as possible. It’s the difference between:

Normal 1st person POV:

I hate anchovies,he thought as he picked the creepy-looking fish off his pepperoni pizza. He scowled. It’ll probably still taste like them too.

And

Deep 1st person POV:

I can’t believe they screwed up my pizza. I hate anchovies! Each creepy-looking fish left a slimy film on his fingers and shallow, grease-filled divots in the mozzarella. Yuck! It’ll probably still taste like them, too!

Not many are using it and fewer are using it well. So kudos!!! That, more than anything, pulled me in right away.

So for all those non-writer-readers out there who often wonder:

*Why don’t I like 1st person or 3rd person?*

It’s very likely not the POV you don’t like, it’s the technique or lack of writing ability of the author that’s bugging you, but you’re not able to put your finger on that. Well written books in any POVs should pull a reader in regardless.

But you might be one of those diehards that know what you do and don’t like. That’s okay too. :o)

Okay… so why 3 stars?

First the…

PROS:

1) Very well written in deep POV, 1st in this case

2) I saw no typos, so either there aren’t any or I was pulled into the story so thoroughly that my brain skimmed over any minor ones. And I was very pulled in. I haven’t been this engaged by an Indie in, well, never. So that’s quite a feat.

3) Excellent character and world building. I was thoroughly invested in Sylvie, Cassie and their relationship. I also became invested in Kevin and Nelson, which will lead to other points in a bit. Both Sylvie and Cassie had highs and lows. Both were very human with plenty of baggage and flaws and redeeming qualities. We’ve all either been Cassie or Sylvie or wanted to be one or the other. Same with Nelson and Kevin. Though Nelsen seemed to have fewer flaws, really we just never knew him as well. He could’ve been more outspoken for Sylvie, made his position more obvious. So lots of delicious gray to go around.

4) The first half had excellent pacing. I feel like it started off with a great hook and moved along nicely. Not too fast, not too slow considering we’re in one head/narrative throughout. There wasn’t too much exposition.

5) I frigged CRIED! Okay? You. Made. Me. F—ing. Cry!

6) The downward spiral of jealously, selfishness, immaturity, self-loathing and sparks of love were just… WOW. This is why I love to write too. Capturing the essence of humanity. *cliche alert* Lightening in a bottle.

7) Nice explanations overall for astral projection. What ifs and all. Sylvie’s ability worked nicely as a plot device without looking like a plot device.

8) Time line rearranging. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but decided to go with Pro since it built some nice suspense by giving away a key bit of plot up front.(view spoiler)

Okay, so now for the…

CONS:

1) Cover was meh. If I had only the cover to make my decision on whether or not to read Untethered it would be a coin toss. It was just … meh. I can see how it relates to the story, but the colors aren’t eye-catching. The font is boring and disappears in thumbnail. The black hand and dark blue sky blend together too much. It’s uninspiring. Very Meh. I’ve bought books just because of the cover art (and been disappointed and visa versa, so it matters and I’m a traditional artist from WAAAAAY back.)

2) This is a bit nit-picky. I admit it, but seriously!!?! Why?!! She mixed exclamation points and question marks between 6-12 times throughout the book. I know. You’re thinking. Really, J??!! Why is that a negative!!?? Because it’s lazy, unprofessional writing. If you’re getting your character’s emotions through by resorting to this !?! then you seriously need to rewrite either the dialogue, the beats, the tags or the whole scene. This??!! should only be used in your text messages, emails and blog when you announce your next writing prezzie. OMG!!!??? Can you believe it???!! Besides, when mixed with the rest of the top notch writing and grammar, they become literary speed bumps.

3) Pacing part two: Sylvie was so anxious and scared to fix what she’d done (no spoiler here) that she just kept not doing what she knew she needed to do? Sigh. Plot Contrivance! Author should’ve either reset the timeline or made Sylvie a bit less quick to change. I just didn’t buy it. And it irked me. And the notebook? She has it, doesn’t read it all in a timely manner, doesn’t show it to you know who to help back up her story. Again… pacing and contrivance. It couldn’t shortened things just having that as a better plot device… a realistic one at that.

4) Unrealistic character actions: Okay, so this is in part because I’m a paramedic, have been for 20 yrs. But I’m telling you, if any kid in any school had any episodes of unconsciousness/unresponsiveness, head injuries, or seizure-like behavior, the staff would be calling 911 EVERY SINGLE TIME. The teachers and staff wouldn’t allow a MINOR to tell them “No, I’m fine, don’t call my parents or 911,” tralalalala! What? Um. No. I know this because I go into schools all the time for injures and illnesses less serious then the above and including the above. Also, my husband is a teacher and knows how high the liability is for schools these days. Maybe I’m being annoying here, but considering many of the plot points were based on a MINOR telling adults what to do about her medical situation… Minors have zero rights outside of civil rights, etc. They cannot sign contracts. The cannot refuse medical aid. They cannot be released to their own care once authorities (including school officials) are involved unless the authority figure or parent releases the liability. This means that if anything worse had happened to Sylvie, her parents could’ve sued the shit out of the school district five hundred ways from Sunday. You know that medical paper you sign when you register your kids for school? That gives the school the legal right to make any medical/legal decisions for the health/welfare of your kids in lieu of being able to contact you. Do you really think any school or teacher these days would allow a minor to walk away? The school nurses especially. They call 911 for the most minor things. I just found it laughably unrealistic. There’s suspension of belief (which I did because I really get into the story) but this happened over and over as characters had medical problems.

Sorry, rant over.

5) MAJOR PLOT HOLE: I’m going to spoiler tag this: (Why on Earth can Kevin, when he’s out of his body, physically interact with his environment–text messages, chat room–when Cassie never could? I could go with him getting into her head and dreams. She was, after all, in his body. But there was never any explanation for why he was able to do a skill that she couldn’t. Sure, we could assume he was better at it than her, but I don’t like assumptions because that’s a plot hole. I get that initially the author played it like it was Sylvie going insane, but then it was pushed hard that it was actually Kevin and not her losing her grip. I get that she probably wanted the gray area for the suspense and plot device. I get that the unresolved mystery ramps things up a bit, but it’s too … pat. Too unexplained.

The author could’ve easily had Kevin’s step-mom explain it away or add something in the notebook or Sylvie could’ve read about it. But… nothing. Never addressed. Sylvie doesn’t even think about it later in her own as if it maybe was her guilt imagining things. And considering that Kevin’s abilities were the ONLY reason Sylvie made the right decision in order to fix things, it’s a major, major plot hole. I don’t like plot holes bigger than my highlander. It tends to irk me, badly. (Spoiler done)

6) The ending. Oh man. The ending. I cried and then I was … abruptly disappointed. That’s it? It just stops? Some platitude about being a hero? A frigging text message? No face to face coda? I invested my emotions in these characters and that’s all I get? Not cool, man. Seriously not cool.

I can see why this is an award winner. There’s so much to love here. Without the plot holes and the chopped off ending, I would’ve given it four stars. Five? well… P & P is a five for me. So you can extrapolate from there. This is when I would love for GR to have 1/2 stars, or 10 stars. But we get what we get.

Overall it was a pleasant afternoon read and I would recommend it to friends. Would I reread it? Probably not. But I’m definitely keeping my eye on this author. I’m sure her next books will be rocking!

Happy reading and writing!

J

Untethered


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