Overlook by Jon Mollison and Thomas Plutarch. Two out of five stars. Starts with a good premise, gradually gets mired in dubious complexity, ends with an understated bang and way too much purple prose. Bah.
I am annoyed. I am very, very annoyed. To the point I (metaphorically) walled it halfway through, then skipped to the end of the eBook so I could see if the authors managed to surprise me.
The authors did not, in fact, surprise me.
The story starts strong, with Joe, our dubious hero, caught in the middle of what seems to be a convenience store robbery. A robbery he feels guilty about, because his particular paranormal talent to go unnoticed has knocked the security camera obviously offline. Bad guys threaten to do way more than just hurt the clerk and her young daughter, Joe gets involved, massive fight, innocents saved. Should be good, right?
“Tears welled up on the woman’s eyes.” This, right here, should have been my first clue.
Chapter 2, we find out superpowers exist, at least one ex-hero is in prison, other full-blown superheroes are out there, and there are some with just “a touch of Prime” that get by in a regular world with subtly enhanced abilities. Like Joe. Okay then.
Chapter 3 is where things start to get a little hinky, with a femme fatale showing up to hire Joe… and that point is 10%, where the Kindle sample ended. This is important, because soon after that point the plotting goes down, the typos go up, and I finally couldn’t take it anymore around… I think 55%.
One of the main problems in the story is the Fatale’s refusal to share information with Joe, even though she wants him to look into the death of an ex-soldier he trained. The constant “you need our help to do this” is a series of blatant manipulations that make it obvious she’s more interested in getting Joe to join her organization than in solving a man’s murder. I’d keep my distance from her too. I have, in fact, no idea why Joe falls for her, except that she’s female and breathing.
The other major problem is that in a world where superpowers are known to exist and the Director (the Big Bad) predicts exactly where untraceable Joe will be and what he’ll do, it never seems to occur to Joe that he’s being tracked by someone who can either predict the future or comes from it. I had that pegged by the second time Joe got trapped. The boat set on fire, I think. Can’t be sure. A lot of things get set on fire. And yes, the final fight of the book ends with a skyscraper set on fire. Points for consistency?
A third problem, though this may be more of a personal irritation, is that the Fatale actually turns out to be working for a Secret Church Organization and wants Joe to join them because “facing what’s really out there, you’ll need something to believe in”.
…That is one of the worst reasons to join a church, ever. Especially paired with, yet again, “we’ll only tell you what you need to know to solve a murder and who’s trying to kill you on our terms”. Hence the walling.
The authors had a good idea. But their worldbuilding needs work, their characters are surprisingly shallow, and someone needs to smack the writers over the head with spellcheck is not sufficient editing. That, and beta readers to catch the purple prose, man. Seriously.
This… this just looks so much like they put all their work and editing into the 10% Kindle sample, and let the rest go hang. It’s a cheat of a story. I’m not buying any other books by these authors.