Book Review

Fiction Express Mondays : Chapter 4.

Voting has closed over at the Fiction Express website so it’s time for me to share my thoughts about the new chapters. Please be aware I discuss some of the things that happen in the chapters and the voting choices so if you haven’t read the chapters yet there are spoilers ahead.

Diary of A Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja.
Last week’s readers agreed with me and decided that Jasper should be on the other side of the door when Molly opened it. This week’s chapter allowed us to get to know him a little better, this was nice as Jewel is remaining very mysterious. There’s another nice scene between Molly and her brother, and it seems things are improving from a friendship point of view for her. Everything seems to be going pretty well for Molly at the moment, I can’t help but worry about how it’s all going to fall apart again – it seems inevitable that it will. I’m sure whatever does happen it will continue to be thoroughly entertaining!

Soul Shadows by Alex Woolf.
The vote last week went for the all action option and saw Estelle and Sandor attempting to fight off the Soul Shadows in an attempt to save Derek. I wasn’t remotely surprised that when Derek became freed he ran off without any consideration for the pair of them. I really liked the twists and turns within this chapter, the fact that Soul Shadows take on a human appearance means that you feel like you can’t trust any new character – I think this helps the reader to get a sense of how Estelle and Sandor must be feeling. I found it really hard to decide which way to vote on this story this week as all of the options felt risky. I can’t wait to see what is chosen.

The Soterion Mission by Stewart Ross.
This week we are treated to an opening scene where we see how furious Timur is that his Zeds were thwarted in their mission to recapture Roxanne and we learn of his new plans to get her back. We then return to the Constants where they are discussing the fate of poor Zavar. After some debate they leave him behind to die, it seems most readers agreed with me on this vote. I enjoyed seeing Roxanne and Cyrus getting closer including the hugely amusing reveal of the title of one of the three Books of Yonne (never saw that coming!) The introduction of the Children of Gova is intriguing, I am fascinated by how the different groups of Constants all vary so much. If I thought the vote for Soul Shadows was hard this one was almost impossible, I think it was the hardest vote yet out of any of the books.

The Last Symbol by Rebecca Morton.
The Last Symbol is rapidly becoming a book of two halves; the story of Miko and the story of Drina. For me this is working really well, I think the two halves balance really nicely. The readers voted for Miko to go and see the Ancient One to try and get an answer about his symbol, I certainly wasn’t expecting the answer he got. I continue to find this story a tense read, both Miko and Drina seem to be in peril so often! I liked the way the Ancient One explained more about both Zenith and the world in which the book is set, this was an effective way to convey the needed exposition. Regardless of which option is picked this week I think we’re in for some great action ahead.

After a ridiculous amount of thought here are my votes for the end of chapter 4:

  • Diary of a Mall Girl – Molly should keep quiet, but suggest double-dating with Liam, not exactly just to keep an eye on things.
  • Soul Shadows – Estelle and Sandor should go to the village and ask directions to Carl Henrison’s house.
  • The Soterion Mission – The rule that Ozlam is referring to should be because the Children of Gova are lovers of peace, the visitors must hand over all their weapons to be destroyed.
  • The Last Symbol – Miko should return to Zenith and attempt to infiltrate the regime.

What do you think? How did you vote?

6 thoughts on “Fiction Express Mondays : Chapter 4.

  1. Perceptive as always, JJ. So glad you liked the first of the Three Books of Yonne. More fun with two and three! By the way, I’m intrigued to know whether we can read any of the real you between the lines …

    1. The real me? Do you mean based on the way I’m voting? If so I’m interested on any theories you have.

      Looking forward to hearing more about the other two Books of Yonne.

  2. First Book of Yonne is in Soterion Mission Chapter 3 (Peter Pan), second book in Chapter 4 (IKEA Catalogue), and hints of third book in Chapter 5 (now being written). No, what I meant by the real you between the lines (!) was whether outside those unfailingly kind notices you had a few negative thoughts that you were kindly keeping to yourself? I mean, do we get nothing wrong? Is our prose never clunky or awkward? Are the plots universally sparkling and the characters unfailingly arresting? Just a thought as I think how to explain to the reader the kinky mysteries of the Children of Gova and wonder how I can introduce a fire engine into the plot …

    1. Oh of course, I’d completely forgotten about Peter Pan – I think my revision last week cleared out a good chunk of memory!

      And what an interesting comment. I do think that all four of you are doing a great job and all of the plots and characters are working for me. Whilst I naturally tend towards the positives of anything I’m more than willing to point out things I don’t like so yes up this point you must be all getting it right. I wonder if it being a chapter based project makes a difference?

  3. The chapter-based approach is really interesting. I’ve decided it’s a bit what writing a soap opera must be like, although I’ve never done that. It means that, in the last resort, plot must dominate because it determines the shape of the narrative – the need to come to some sort of fork in the road every 4,000 words or so. In terms of character development, I find this a bit restricting because most of us don’t lead lives that lurch drunkenly from one crisis to another (at least, we hope not), and making them do so leads us to the unreal realm of 007 or Eastenders. Another problem – which you experienced first hand – is that the week’s gap between chapters makes it difficult to remember what had happened in the previous bit you read, resulting, if one is not careful, in a tale that is simply eleven mini-tales stitched together. That said, it’s a tremendously exciting challenge and one in which, I hope, I’m able to retain some vestige of interesting character and relationship – not to mention glimpses of allegory – amid the surrounding mayhem!

    1. I think the comparison to soap opera is a really good one. I’m glad that you’re enjoying the challenge, I hope you still are by chapter 11.

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