Valerie's Reviews > The Radical

The Radical by S.M. Lynch
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Sep 07, 12

Read from September 03 to 05, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Let me preface this by saying there will be spoilers.

I've been told the author is looking for critique, so here goes.
I believe the story was good here, but I also believe it needed some more development and that the book itself needs editing.

Again, the story line was good, I enjoyed that. I think that with some plot holes filled in and other continuity issues taken care of, it would be a great story. The idea of the world kept basically in slavery to a corporation that had used an accidental flu pandemic to take over the world was intriguing. Add a resistance movement and an unaware heroine and you have the makings of a good book.

However, the first thing that got to me was the details here and there that just didn't line up. For example, the beginning of the book defines Seraphina, aka Seraph, as being very noticeable at 6 feet tall and a mane of red hair. However, the way things happen and go, her apparent largeness is never an issue, she wears her deceased great-aunt's clothing with ease, clothing most recently worn by a woman in her 80's.

The citizens of the world have been pushed to the cities in fear of a flu pandemic that happened in the year 2023. They are always afraid it's going to happen again and a corporation called Officium has pretty much taken over the world. Of course, no one knows that Officium unwittingly unleashed the pandemic themselves. The citizens of the world are described as basically despondent, so much so that hardly anyone bothers to get married anymore. They are discouraged from procreating but this is an issue that seems to be conveniently thrown in toward the end of the book rather than discussed where it should have been. They are horribly without hope, however, and just meander throughout their meaningless lives, from work to home, work to home, same thing day in and out. The thing I don't understand with all of this is that these people are are living these horrible lives where they don't care about anything but it's apparently still lucrative enough to run a newspaper, so much so that Seraph holds a pretty good position at one and makes a decent living. It just doesn't make any sense to me, honestly. Seraph is also, quite often, referred to as just "the reporter," which got pretty old very fast.

I must also mention that these despondent citizens have pretty much unlimited technology at their fingertips. Apparently, everyone carries a device called a "Unicus" that can't seem to make up its mind whether it's a smart phone or a laptop or tablet or something else. It has these amazing capabilities and is hooked into some sort of always-on internet where it can get anything it doesn't already have. People make video calls, send messages, and use it for an ultrasound machine. And they apparently come in a variety of shapes and sizes, at least 3 times, the different colors and shapes are described. For instance, Seraph's is a purple bow. How... impractical. But the thing I really don't think makes much sense is why, if these people are basically enslaved to the cities and living in such dirty and dank conditions, they've all got this great technology. It is spoken of several times, Officium wants to keep control of the people; I guess they weren't doing a very good job. Not to mention, the technology itself is spotty. They can apparently buy a one-time use ultrasound machine to hook up to their Unicus but note that it "should" work at 13 weeks gestation.

I also can't understand why if Seraph is such a big threat to Officium, is she still alive. It's spoken of a lot how Officium will just kill people who step in the wrong direction, and then how Seraph has been a thorn in their side for some time, even though she was mostly unaware of this fact... why would they let her live? It would have been easy to just kill her at any time before when the book takes place. At one point, Seraph is accosted by two "agents" and someone else has to fight her battle for her, yet later, she thinks she can take on 6 by herself and tells Ryken "watch and learn."

Another continuity problem that got me came when Seraph and Ryken - our hero - are riding a motorcycle at very high speeds. Ryken takes off very fast and, "Seraph hadn't expected him to shoot off like that and knocked against his body with a blow..." Taking off very fast would have sent Seraph tumbling off the back of the motorcycle rather than hitting Ryken from behind. However, had he braked very hard, she would have gone forward. Speaking of vehicles, they have the technology to have pretty much automated cars or hover cars or whatever they are, just at one point Seraph asks Ryken, "You can't drive with that shoulder anyway, can you?"

The genealogist in me has to have a little giggle, too. When Mara tells Seraph that they are second cousins because Seraph is her mother's great-niece... nope, that makes them first cousins, once removed. ;)

Another finally mentioned continuity issue was later when some more of the story is being revealed. There's a spot where it is told that 2 of the 3 man research team were killed because of what they knew during the outbreak in 2023. However, those two men really didn't know anything. All they knew was that 10-12 years prior, they'd contracted that flu and gotten over it. They were not the ones that brought it back from the vast wilderness, they had no idea who or what had done that, so there was no reason for them to have been killed.

One thing that also didn't feel right was the use of British terminology and words. I don't have a problem with that, if a book is written by a British author or takes place in Britain, but Seraph was supposed to have been born and bred in New York City. Yes, she does travel to the UK for a very large chunk of the book. I think the British spellings of words and, of course, way of speaking in dialogue, while they are in the UK is fine, but when at home in the US, it shouldn't sound like they're on the other side of the pond. The word "learnt" is also used quite a bit. As I understand it, that is quite acceptable in the UK but in the US, the word is "learned." They "pop the boot" rather than the "trunk," etc. For Seraph having been born in NY and being described as having a thick NY accent, she sure doesn't talk like a New Yorker.
Near the end of the book is a newspaper article written by someone else at the NY newspaper that Seraph works for, yet it is full of UK terminology and spellings. It just didn't feel right. (In that same article, the person writing it refers to RAO without explanation. Of course, the readers know what RAO stands for, but the average person in the story would not have. That was also not the only instance of characters being discussed without explanation to the proper other characters. I should also mention that the newspaper article doesn't really read as an article, or at least an unbiased one, as it refers to the big bad guy as "deluded" when discussing his past.)

The dialogue itself was actually pretty weak. Not that I'm one to talk, I stink at dialogue, but at times it was pretty hard to read/understand.
"You know, I'm not an emotional person, I'm really not, but this is just insanity. I mean, why am I even ******* bothering?! This is just the dumbest idea I ever had. I don't know how I ended up here." You ended up in the sewers because you were running from the bad guys, remember?
"You make me wanna puke..."

There are a few other things I should point out such as some misspellings or places where the wrong word is used ("peddle" where it should be "pedal") and other sentences and phrases that do not make any sense or should not be used in a professional novel writing:
"...when a hand came out of nowhere and put a hand over her mouth."
"As early as 2016, the 92-year-old began recruiting various..." (It should be noted that he was 92 in the year 2065 or whenever our present day is, not in 2016.
"Just over three months previously..."
"People on the streets seemed to freak out at the sight of..." Freak out?
"They passed empty houses that were falling into extreme disrepair through total neglect. Seraph spotted something very sad."
"While Seraph almost fell into a coma from fatigue..."
"The taste of him was like catnip to her..." (That actually just grossed me out.)
"...his love organ..."
"...and they laughed at one another before starting to tear each other's faces off again..."

Also, the use of single quotes every place that double quotes should have been used, it made it hard to read because the single quotes do not separate the dialogue enough from the rest of the text; well, that and because I've never seen that before.

Something that also really started to annoy me by the middle of the book was the use of the phrase "all of a sudden." It was extremely over used and there was even one sentence that read, "He suddenly needed a cold shower all of a sudden."

And as a side note that I'm not sure where else I can throw it in, Eve's diary didn't really read like a diary. It read more like a novel, the same as the rest of the book. There was really nothing else to make it stand out as a diary.

Now, as for our characters themselves...

Seraph was ok. She's a complex creature. So much so that I was very surprised at the point where she seems to take a 180 turn in what kind of character she's going to be. She started out one way then at times was like a completely different character. She's described as being different from what she had previously been behaving or coming off as. Ryken almost develops the same way, you go back and forth between thinking he's a good guy, he's a bad guy, he's a good guy, but not in a way that flows. Our big bad guy is not given enough development, either. He is introduced without surprise, because we have no prior idea who he is.

I hope this is helpful. Again, I did enjoy the story line, I just feel that the book is still in rough draft status and needs polishing.
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