Review by Publishers Weekly
Posted on May 3, 2010 (Subscribe to Blog)
Today the review of Island of Fog by Publishers Weekly was posted to my CreateSpace account. I promised I'd share it here, even though it's not the best review ever! It's not the worst either, but considering the "it's okay" tone I'm not really surprised they dropped me from the contest...
ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer
Hal Frankin and Robbie Strickland, both 12, have spent their entire lives on a fog shrouded island imaging how the world "Out There" compares to their gray existence. As supplies on the island dwindle, a mysterious visitor named Miss Simone comes to the island and starts asking the children if they have started developing any strange abilities. After they encounter a manticore in the woods, Hal and his friends discover they have the ability to shape-shift into mythical creatures, such as centaurs, dragons, and faeries. Fast paced with plenty of action, younger readers will enjoy the fantastical adventure elements of the plot. The narrative moves along despite any noticeable character development. There's a non sequitur moment in Hal's aside about Miss Simone, that she is a person who "spent very little time with children... and underestimated their intelligence" that doesn't fit in with overall tone of the novel. Combining precocious tweens with mythical beasts, the author delivers a solid, if rote, fantasy adventure.
I'm okay with the "despite any noticeable character development" comment, which is a fair observation. I'm also okay with the "author delivers a solid, if rote, fantasy adventure," which is at least half positive! Plus I hardly ever see use of the word "rote" and have to admit I like it. (Note to self: use "rote" in conversation more often. And note to Dad: "rote" does NOT mean "ritten.")
The comment about the "non sequitur moment" left me puzzled. The reviewer is talking about a passage on page 112:
Abigail spent much of the time rolling her eyes at Hal, and he had to agree that Miss Simone was making a fool of herself. Did she really think her feeble lies were convincing? Clearly she had spent very little time with children before, and completely underestimated their intelligence.
What exactly is irrelevant about that, and why doesn't it fit in with the overall tone of the novel? Maybe someone can explain this one to me as I'm a little puzzled by it!
But overall I guess it's a reasonably positive review, so I'm sorta-kinda pleased. It's good to have feedback from a tough critic like Publishers Weekly and be told that my novel doesn't completely suck. :-)
PS: I hope this post doesn't seem rote!
Note to self: Look up the word 'rote'. Sorry I can't clear up your confusion either.
I don't know how Hal normally speaks or thinks but "she had spent very little time with children before" sounds quite formal unlike "she hadn't spent much time...". Perhaps the same with "completely underestimated". I wouldn't have called that a non sequitur though.