It was alright for one of those thriller types. I did like the twist with regards to The Ghost. I didn't care for the addition at the end with regardsIt was alright for one of those thriller types. I did like the twist with regards to The Ghost. I didn't care for the addition at the end with regards to the Russians. Trying to be vague about it, but I found it an unnecessary bit of extra plot that didn't need to be there after the main story's climax.
A Slave to Want by Jay Grewal tells the story of young Jelani born a slave on a plantation in Alabama.
As other reviews have said, the story was definiA Slave to Want by Jay Grewal tells the story of young Jelani born a slave on a plantation in Alabama.
As other reviews have said, the story was definitely a page turner. This is a good sign of how rate of revelation works in a plot. Nothing felt all that rushed in the story, especially at the end when new authors can fall victim to the "OMG I HAVE TO GET EVERYTHING IN AT THE LAST CHAPTER BECAUSE THE NOVEL IS ENDING SOON". The characters indeed had strong voices and the premise behind the plot was interesting. Jelani turns out to have this supernatural power that he can project his emotions on another person and, if I understood it correctly, he can take on the burden of another's emotions as well.
Where I run into trouble is one of the biggest arguments I have against self publishing. This story has a very big potential of being a well crafted piece of literature, but it needs the critical eye of an editor that is not a friend of the author.
There were points where the language was overtly flowery in a voice that didn't seem at all to belong to Jelani but to the author himself. Unfortunately, author intrusion in a first person narration detracts from the voice of the narrating character.
"Then, unfurling from the woods came a buckshot that startled me." -- location 1625 (kindle edition)
This is just one exmple of overtly flowery language. It doesn't feel like Jelani's voice at all, which is unfortunate because for the most part his voice tends to be rather consistant while speaking. It's the non speaking parts that run on the uncharacteristic side. My thoughts are that this story would have had more wiggle room for scenic description had it not been told in first person. Third person narration allows the author to draw out of the main character's head and do things like pontificate on the beauty of the landscape.
I know it seems like I'm picking on this story, but these are things that caught me up while reading. Overuse of simile, under use of metaphor, language that is too scholarly for the voice of an uneducated slave boy.
As for education. I did find it difficult to buy the characterisation of a lot of the slaves. They seemed to know far too much for the time period and have a vocabulary that didn't fit with how they lived. While it may be true that they were smart, there just seemed to be so much that they knew which I felt didn't match with how life was portrayed. Getting whipped for knowing how to read and yet the mother knows the exact name of the hymn sung at George Washington's funeral half a century before the book takes place? I'm sure there was a reason as to how this came to be, but it never felt truly explained.
So while this is a good attempt at a first novel, there are lots of places where it could be improved and where an editor from a publishing house would make a huge difference.
I didn't all together hate the novel. My star rating has more to do with how the writing was executed than what the idea was and I truly wish that the stars didn't have phrases attached to them. Jay Grewal has the potential with this story, but it needed a lot of fine tuning before hitting the shelves....more