Review: The Fog of Dockside City: The Obliteration Machine

The Fog of Dockside City: The Obliteration Machine
The Fog of Dockside City: The Obliteration Machine by Pat Flewwelling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Really a 3.5)
I came to this book in an interesting way. I read a blog post by the author, where she talked about how this book (self-published) had not been well-reviewed (hardly reviewed at all, in fact). She discussed the dilemma of whether to rewrite and re-issue a new version, or continue on with the series and let the first book stand. It was very interesting to me, as an editor and an author gearing up to self-publish the first book in a series myself. My curiosity was piqued enough to check out the book.

My feelings about the book are complicated. On one hand, I really enjoyed it. It has intriguing characters, and a unique setting that really resonated with me. I’ve always loved noir and superhero fiction and one of my favorite books of all time is “Invisible Scarlett O’Neill”–this made me think of that one. It has a complex plot that kept me picking up the book and reading on to see what happened next. That’s the most important thing you want your book to do. I shelve a lot of books that don’t hold my interest, but I read straight through to the end of this one.

On the other hand, the close attention of a good, experienced editor could have smoothed out the rough spots and really made this book shine. The writing is solid, really great in places. But many times I wanted to get out my editorial pen and mark it up. :) There were places where characters’ motivations needed to be clearer, where things were confusing, rough patches in the writing, and where there were substantive issues that could have been easily fixed with some editorial input.

This is not to say that every traditionally-published book that has been professionally edited doesn’t have some or all of these problems. Far from it. And–maybe this book was edited, and there were still things that were missed. I really don’t know. But it always makes me sad when I read a book with so much potential, that falls short of the mark for this one missing element–good editing. Or at least feedback from thoughtful, objective readers who can point out these types of problems (as long as the author will act on their advice). I think the importance of having this kind of input is the single most important thing that gets overlooked by indie authors. And it makes readers put books down and never try that author again.

So. I have to give this book 3 stars (which is really 3.5 in my mind)–and keep in mind that I assign ratings based on Goodreads’ definitions. I did really like the story and have already bought the next book, in the hope that the issues in this one will have been better addressed in the next.

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