Saturday, December 24, 2011

Indie Book Review: Snap

Like every reader, I've got pet peeves. And due to my current run of sloppy books, I've developed some new ones regarding formatting and editing over the last few weeks. This is unfortunate for Mario Molinari, the author of Snap, because he decided to send me a book rife with my newest peeves.

To make matters worse, I know Mario can write. The reason I know this is because  the first chapter of Snap absolutely rocks in the Mission Impossible, James Bond, glorious action galore tradition. I was really, really looking forward to this. The cover is beautiful. The first chapter is great. And then it falls to pieces. And on a scale of one to ten, my disappointment after that first chapter was at about sixteen.

Either Snap desperately needed a whole bunch of extra section breaks, or it desperately needed someone to explain that random POV/scene hopping is not appropriate. It often needed dialog tags. These are all the sorts of errors that having one or two other sets of eyes on the book would have taken care of. This book could have rocked. It should have rocked. But no, it's sitting firmly in the sad sack section because Molinari didn't bother to actually polish the damn thing!

The punctuation is rough, the sort of thing I expect from first draft by an okay writer. Not what I want to see in a published book.  Word flow is okay, with occasional wonky word choices or missing words, the sort of thing a proof reader would have seen and fixed. (I write these reviews over the course of several days, and on one re-read I was wondering if I was being too harsh. So I opened Snap back up, and the first sentence I read had no period.) This is a published work that is available for SALE. I got my copy for free because I'm a reviewer, but Molinari expects everyone else to give him money for this, almost five dollars, and it's not good enough.

If you'll allow me to fully get into rant mode here, I am a self-published writer. Now, is my book free of errors and perfect in every way? No. Do I expect anyone else's book to be perfect. No. I don't expect perfect. I don't expect near perfect. But I do expect the book to have been edited, proof read, and gone over by the author, thoroughly, to make sure it's as good as can be. And I expect absolutely glaring errors to be taken care of before the book hits print.

I went to Amazon to see what other reviewers were thinking of Snap, and gosh, it's got twenty five star reviews, and though they are all fairly similar, none of them mention the formatting.  So I begin to think that I've got a wonky ARC. That happens; a perfect polished version isn't always part of the review process.  So I download a new copy for Kindle, and head over to Smashwords to see what's up there. The Smashwords HTML version looked okay. The line breaks were there, at least. Though the rest of the sloppiness is still visible. I start to calm down some.

Then I checked on the new Kindle version, and it's a mess. That's where I started to see red.

Here's an example: the plot is happily skipping along, tension is rising, and then we'd be, with no warning, in a new POV in a different scene, and then back to the first, and back to the second, and back to the first, and there's no scene breaks, and sometimes no dialog tags so you don't even know who's talking.  ARGH!  DID NO ONE ELSE EVER READ THIS? Since it's right in the Smashwords version, I know Molinari knows that there need to be section breaks, and that pisses me off even more.  This is an author wasting my time and the money of anyone buying this by being so ridiculously lazy that he didn't bother to check his .mobi format before clicking on the publish button.

And maybe I could have gotten past this, except Snap hit another of my pet peeves. I do not enjoy watching non-psychopathic characters get other people killed like it's no big deal.

Spoiler territory here: Wade (the hero) is trying to rescue Sarah (female lead 1) and Brad (her soon to be ex-husband) from a hired psychopath. He's supposed to meet the psycho, alone, and trade himself for Sarah and Brad. So, instead of showing up alone, he hires 20 actors to look like they just happen to be having a party at the exact same time and location as the swap, dons body armor, and mingles with the actors. Purposely using them as human shields. (The idea being psychopathic killer will decide he can't take the shot and go to the hostages. I guess. This is where the plot was starting to get loose. The plan was really fuzzy, and Wade is packed into as much body armor, including a helmet, as he can get. Obviously he expects bullets to fly. And no, none of the actors know they're risking their lives for fifty bucks and all the alcohol they can drink.) Amazingly enough, one of the actors is killed, because psycho-guy is not even remotely bothered by trying to take a shot through someone else. And then Wade just leaves like it's no big deal.

I gave up. I don't need my good guys sparkly clean, but I don't want them thinking innocent human shields are appropriate either. And I'm really not willing to trudge through bad formatting and clunky mechanical issues for a character I don't love. With that scene there, any chance I was going to love Wade died, just like the unnamed red-shirt in the above scene.

12/25/11  After reading the review Mario Molinari has pulled the .mobi version of Snap for re-editing and re-formatting. He tells me the hard copy (from which most of his reviews come) looks great. I wish him much luck in getting this story into the shape it wants to be in.


  1. Wow. This is why as self-published authors you have to have join critque groups or have alot of writers and beta readers read the book before you publish it.

    My novel Fire Baptized was due to come out in December, but I pushed it to Feb just to have more Beta readers comb through it. My biggest fear is something like this happening.

    thanks for th article.

    Kenya Wright

  2. This is why I went through every page of my book in every format I could read it in. Which is an exquisitely boring way to spend a week.

    And there is one paragraph that I just couldn't get to indent right. I don't know why. But that one line is coded differently somehow. And eventually I did give up on it. It's one paragraph out of a 258,000 word novel.

    So I fully get the occasional oops. I've already spent six hours ripping out my hair and this stupid line is still wrong, is a vividly familiar sensation.

    If I mention a book's grammar, format, or missing words, we're not talking about an oops here or there. We're talking about the sorts of things that pop up at least once a chapter and possibly a few times a page.