Book Review: WiSpY by Rob Andrews
A young blogger has the ultimate on-line encounter; a spirit partner who introduces him to a world he must master to save his own. A ghost in the machine?
Adam is a 19 year old blogger who lives in his mother’s basement and who is dealing with a critically ill friend. A simple reply to a blog fan e-mail begins a relationship with Pretoria, a a beautiful and mysterious young woman. Pretoria guides him into ‘the Realm’, a spirit world where he discovers he is a powerful force for the protection and survival of human kind. As Pretoria reintroduces Adam to the Realm and his place in it, he realizes that she is not only trying to reclaim him for the sake of humanity, but also for the spirit world and herself. Facing a powerful evil , Adam re-engages with the Realm in order to save his friend and the human world while re-discovering why he had tried to escape it in the first place. As a battle within the Realm reaches its climax, Adam must finally choose between his human and his spirit form, or lose both.
I really wanted to LOVE this book. I love the author; he’s a great person and a talented writer. I was SO excited when I won this book because it was high on my to-read list and I’d heard great things about it. Unfortunately, it turned out it just wasn’t the right book for me. I recommend this for an older teen, male audience. That’s not to say other genders and ages won’t enjoy the book, it’s just my best guess at what group of people would relate to the characters, plot, and writing style the most.
What I Liked
The first chapter hooked me in with the fun conversational prose. There were some real LOL moments in there for me. One of my favorite lines comes from the beginning of the novel, when Adam narrates: “I decided to go to the fridge and see if I was hungry.” I enjoy subtle humor like that. It’s just enough to make me smile, but not so much that I am snorting with laughter and getting weird stares from my husband or children or whoever might be around.
The parts of “dialogue” between Wispy and Adam are really fun, most of all toward the beginning of the story and when they very first meet. There were some really cute moments between them, and I really enjoyed Adam’s dorky behavior and all-too-normal hormonal reactions to things. Adam is likable and I’d love to see him star in his own television series.
The story really takes off around 50% in, almost to the point that it’s an entirely different story (but it fits). There were some excellent characters details woven throughout the entire story that really made the characters come to life for me.
This is a highly creative story.
What I Didn’t Like
I’ll note that the formatting was a little awry and the book could have, in my humble opinion, benefited from a content and copy-editor. The content of course is just an opinion, and I think all writers feel this way of other books. The copy-editing however, is more of a matter of fact. There were some punctuation problems throughout, but not enough that I think would detract from a reader’s enjoyment. (My guess is most people wouldn’t even notice.) The proofreading was decent, with not many typos. As for content editing, I think a content editor might catch the POV slips as well as the info dumps and inconsistencies. For example, one dialogue we see a character say”You are someone I know.” and in the same dialogue–without any breaks in who is speaking–the very same person then says, “You are kind of pushy for someone I don’t know.” I also spotted some contradictions in the world building.
There were some cases of telling where it wasn’t needed. I’m far from being the “Show-don’t-Tell” police, as I think all stories need a balance of both, but I’m not a fan of telling what you show in the very next sentence. Let the second speak for itself. It’s a bit like saying, “I’m going to hug you.” and then hugging you. (Except that would actually be kind of cute, wouldn’t it?) It just doesn’t work all the time, though.
Some things were repeated too often by Adam for me. For example, he’d say “Screw it” and then say it again less than a page later. After that, it just started to feel like he was saying it all the time. I like when characters have catch phrases, but it was overdone for my tastes. Once or twice a chapter is really more than enough (for me).
Toward the start, there was also what I consider an excessive amount of back story/info dumping (7 pages straight + 1 chapter of more of the same–basically a chapter summarizing 14 years of friendship). I hoped it would somehow prove relevant, but for me it never did. A few of those details could have been woven into the plot at appropriate times to make the story smoother and that section read faster.
Sometimes I found it hard to keep track of who was talking. I’d forget who was italics and who was bold, and I’d have to read sections a few times sometimes just to figure out who was saying what to who. Sometimes they would also be talking about two things during one conversation, which CAN be done really well and make for some amazing dialogue, but in this case muddled things at times because I would lose track of the important thought for the menial one, and the response by the other character then wouldn’t make sense.
Also, some of the blog posts were a little long and boring for how little they accomplished. Others, however, were quite clever and enjoyable. I was left wondering, though, who calls emails “fanfare”? I found Caith’s appearance a little too convenient. The plot did feel a little forced for me at times, and the ending was a little flat and unsatisfying for me.
*MILD SPOILER ALERT*
(highlight to read)
I thought when Adam was “awakened” he would know everything, but Pretoria was explaining things right down to the end of the book?
*END SPOILER ALERT*
Overall, the story has a lot of good moments. I wouldn’t say it’s an action-packed read, but that’s one of the things I liked about it. This is good for those who like books with a slow burn and a lot of focus on characters over plot. The story can be a bit predictable at some points, but it was still interesting. I’d say the highlight of this book is it’s characters. The writing is easy to read and suitable for a middle-grade to young adult audience. I know it looks like I have a lot of nitpicks, but I do recommend other people to check it out. It’s a solid debut novel.
Please Note: None of this review may be used for promotional purposes.
Rebecca Hamilton is a USA Today bestselling Paranormal Fantasy author. Her bestselling Forever Girl Series is available at online retailers and has been optioned for film with Witten Pictures. The Hungarian edition has been published with IPC books and the German edition has been published with Darkiss, a Harlequin imprint.