Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: If One Falls

If One Falls by Elaine H. Baldwin

One of my favorite parts of the book is the way Esa and Wynn's friendship develops and grows slowly throughout the book. There was never a jarring point of “now we’re friends” as there sometimes is in stories like this. Rather, as they realized they were friends, so did the reader. It happened bit by bit – as it would in real life. The author did this beautifully.

The evil characters throughout the book are clearly bad - all bad. There seemed to be something missing, for me. In my experience, people are complex. I didn’t see the motivation behind their actions. Maybe that’s something book two will dive into more, but I was hoping for some insight within book one.

The character development of both Esa and Wynn is excellent. They both grow realistically throughout the book. It was interesting to see their ways of speaking (mainly using contractions or not) change as they entered different circumstances, too. 

As a small note, I love Pax!

Some of the secondary characters were more 2D than they could be. With the main story told from Esa and Wynn’s perspectives, that’s natural, but I did feel their characters could have been developed more. By the end of the book I knew a lot about Wynn and Esa, but very little about many other characters.

I really enjoyed the periodic reveals of characters' pasts (particularly Wynn’s) and the slow disclosing of magical elements throughout the story. 

The grammar could use another pair of eyes. In addition, the use of diction within dialog was sometimes distracting. I’m not opposed to making dialog unique like this – in fact, it’s often a very good thing – but sometimes it felt like too much. A distinctive phrase here and there goes a long way.

The ending, while it does lead into book two, felt anticlimactic to me. I was left with a feeling of “wait, what?” It seemed a little rushed, especially since the rest of the book progressed steadily (not too slow, but savoring in the right moments). There is also a point (I’m being vague here in an effort to avoid spoilers) where I had to blink and reread, and I still wasn’t sure I believed it.

The sadder parts in the book were written well. I really felt for the characters as they dealt with what sometimes seemed like struggle after struggle. The emotions they feel are universal, and I appreciate the way the author handled them.

If One Falls has a lot of potential. The plot is one I haven’t seen done often, and I appreciate the focus on friendship, rather than romance. The book could use another round of edits, though, and the ending could come to a more satisfying close.

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