Sunday, May 18, 2014

My #Cat Paprika forwards the #ABNA reviews for #JIHADI: A LOVE STORY (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarterfinalist)

(Note from my cat Paprika: "These reviews, from the first round of the competition, are based on the first 5000 words of the novel, and shouldn't be taken as reviews of the whole thing. I've read that. These people haven't.")



What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

Using the method of memoir/dissenting voice worked well at conveying the story, moved at a fast pace and proved to have pretty good strength at grabbing my attention. Thelonius Liddell, R.L. Firestone, Fatima, other secondary characters in the story all begin to breathe, their personalities beginning to bubble up and over, despite such a small sampling to read. The tidbits of trivia and information (reproduction of vowels within the written text of the Muslim Holy Scripture is forbidden; Firestone disputes the accuracy of Liddell's facts regarding the board game Sorry!) added value and intrigue to the story.

What aspect needs the most work?

I would like to know who R.L. Firestone is in relation to Thelonius Liddell. I suspect this might become more clear later in the story. According to the hook/summary, Firestone is a psychologist.... But I wasn't certain, just reading Firestone's rebuttal entries, beginning with the Foreword, because Firestone's job/title is not given. What Firestone has to say becomes more fluid, informational, more personal (and maybe less formal), and more engaging as the story (and Ali's memoir) progress.

 

 

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I was completely taken in by Jihadi: A Love Story. I found it to be current, original, clever and compelling. I liked the mystery within the story and the format the dissenting voices use. I liked that it had a few formal lines without using language that fell into dull and stiff; I liked the idea of thinking for myself and figuring out what I believed happened (who's telling the truth? What really happened? Why was Thelonius murdered? Are there cover-ups occurring, and if so how/why/who knows it's a coverup and who has no idea?), even if the truth is tragic and justice is denied access to the stage. I would definitely want to read this book.


 

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What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?


The strongest aspect of this excerpt is the excellent and creative structure. It is both entertaining and thought provoking. Instead of having a normal straight up narrative, the author has woven a much more complex tale. The novel is structured as a memoir written in secret by a US citizen accused of treason and that memoir is critiqued .... The structure has the reader thinking about truth and lies, the unreliable narrator (or in this case, narrators) and that narrator's motives and hidden agenda. This approach is very creative and unique and is sustained throughout.

 

 

What aspect needs the most work?

Honestly, there is nothing in this excerpt that obviously needs work. The one word of caution I would add is that the author should take care, in the following chapters, not to take too dogmatic a position. In these opening chapters, the author's position is not made obvious, but there may be opportunities as the novel progresses to reveal the author's position too obviously, but I hope that does not happen.

 

 

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Overall, this is an extremely strong excerpt. The narrative construct is unique and creative. The voices of the two narrators are clear and sustained. The set up is interesting and compelling. There is not a wasted sentence or phrase in this piece; everything moves the narrative forward. This excerpt is refreshingly different from most of the espionage and thriller genre. Very well done!

 

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE FREE EXCERPT AND ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW BY CLICKING HERE.