I don't venture much into self-published territory, but I had to after reading the synopsis for The Dig, by Audrey Hart. Time travel? Mythology? Sexy Zeus? Yes, please! But I've got to say that I was really disappointed in this one. While the MC had a cute, spunky voice, I just couldn't get behind the intense insta-love, the egregious historical inaccuracies, and the mismatched plot and pacing.
First, let me give you my schpeal on historical fantasy and time travel novels - yes, this is fantasy. I know that your protagonist is a time traveler. I also know that you don't want to write in an archaic style. But why do you have your historical characters talking and acting like modern people with modern sensibilities?! This is the first rule in historical fiction - YOUR SETTING ISN'T MODERN SO WHY ARE YOU WRITING LIKE IT IS? I found this to be true in both The Dig and the other self-published novel I recently read, Destined, by Jessie Harrell (though at least Harrell's novel was well paced and had an interesting storyline).
It really irritated me that all the Greek gods and the nymphs and everything threw around words like "boyfriend" and "cantina." Uhh...I'm pretty sure that cantina is a Spanish word, and as this is supposed to be ancient Greece, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they didn't have that word.
So yeah, I was really tripped up by the historical inaccuracies. But I was also bothered by the almost product placing. Seriously, Apple should have paid Hart for publishing this book. It's practically a commercial for the iPhone! She's always talking about all the cool apps it has, and a freakin' iPhone is what transports her back in time! Wow, I didn't know they had an app for that! It was all very weird, that.
Then there's the issue of characterization. While I enjoyed reading about Zoe because she was a little snarky and funny, I really kind of hated all how all the other characters are portrayed. I was excited to see that Zeus was getting more facetime in this book, as he's usually overlooked in YA. But what I found here was a spineless teeny bopper that magically falls in love with our average heroine, playing into the ultimate YA stereotype. He's supposed to be centuries old, but all I could see was a ninth grader who's too cute for his own good. He's so cookie cutter, it hurt my heart a little. This is Zeus, a.k.a. god of lightning and king of the Pantheon who's a classic womanizer and castrated his dad for rule of Olympus. SUCH good material to work with here. But it was all wasted in The Dig.
And while I'm on the gods, can I just say that Hermes was not a girl! WHAT?! I understand that this gender reversal was used as a plot device so that everyone could be all matchy matchy, but if you're going to do that, just swap him out for a goddess or something. I mean, that's practically blasphemy (well...it would have been if this were ancient Greece, I suppose...). And while I appreciated that Hera was the vengeful shrew that she often is in myth, I felt like she was shrunken so much that she became petty. In fact, they were ALL petty. It was just weird.
And do I even have to mention the bit about Kim Kardashian? And Rihanna? Oh, and more iPhones? Yeah, I don't think so. You're getting the picture. All these really weird elements came together in an awkward plot with bad pacing and too much telling, and it was just all-around NOT entertaining. The beginning had promise; Hart should have just kept Zoe in modern times. This book needs some SERIOUS renovations before I would recommend a big time publisher picking it up; but then again, books get published every day that I don't think should have been...
I almost feel bad giving such a scathing review, but this one pushed my buttons. I had high hopes, and I love to support authors who don't get hype. But I'm sorry. This one wasn't for me.