Jan 5, 2011

eBook Review: Shades of Green by Ian Woodhead

Shades of GreenShades of Green is a debut novel by Ian Woodhead.  It's available from the Kindle store and from Smashwords, where you will find some of his earlier short stories for free.

I am going to be be upfront, I did not like this book.  I honestly believe that Ian could workshop this book,  if hasn't already and make it far better.  It suffers from a number of issues that pretty much destroyed my immersion in the novel.  Some of these issues are blatant, others are matters of style.

What am I talking about?
What follows are a number of examples,some of which are found within the first 5 pages of reading:

  1. Wrong character name used - the story features two brothers and in the opening scenes the wrong brothers name is used, causing confusion. Not a simple typo and a little disconcerting this soon in the text.
  2. Repeated Phrase - there's a repeated fragment, three words long on page 5.
  3. Formating - this is not the Authors fault entirely( or perhaps it is when you self publish) and I have come across it in other works by professional publishers.  The book has flashback scenes and quick cuts to other characters but there are an absence of page breaks and other conventions like italics to differentiate between changes in times/locations. 
  4. Style: The writing isn't as polished as you'd expect. There's confusing or wordy sentence structure and redundant descriptions.
  5. Characters voice -  I didn't really get a good sense of the characters and at times I felt the authors voice intruding on the character's i.e. I couldn't tell with it was the authors/narrators opinion or that of the character.  Of course the story features characters being take over by an alien presence which probably doesn't help the issue.
The Story
The story has Lovecraftian elements, and ample examples of grotesque horror-  the characters fighting against    insurmountable odds, an ancient alien evil and the town and its people being devoured around them. 

Final Thoughts 
I don't know if the ample grotesque description hinders the pace that Woodhead is trying to achieve.  At times the work seems crowded with gruesome elaborations of the authors imaginings - like there were a few too many concepts that he wanted to fit in.  

Ultimately I think it would be best for Ian to rework this story; make it longer, give us a bit more character,up the suspense through a combination of streamlining his prose and scaling back on the description to move the novel along.


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