Alkalinemeow's Reviews > The Nymphos of Rocky Flats

The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
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's review
Oct 10, 2011

liked it

Ok, so I really really hate to write this review giving the book the 3 star rating I believe it earned. I bought this book and before I even read it wanted to give it 5 stars. Why you ask? Because it is so freaking original. I mean, come on, aliens, nymphos, and daywalking vampires? Sounds like a sweet read, right? *Sigh* regrettably it wasn't as sweet of a read as I had hoped. The ideas and premise of this book were excellent. They were well thought out (I assume), original, and interesting. This is something difficult to do in a genre that maintains all of these expectations of how things should be and yet still expects originality, more often than not resulting in the mockery of any such originality a writer brings to the myth and genre. A notable example of this would be the sparkling in day light of the Twilight vampires (Note: this is not an endorsement of the book or the idea, just an easy example. I would perhaps…maybe…possibly consider only endorsing those books for the purpose of escapism and not for their literary merit because of the notable lack of literary merit.)

That having been said, I think Mario Acevedo did several things well namely, originality of the vampire myth, interpretation and application being the most noteworthy (even more so when the original date of publication is taken into account). The pacing of the story is also done well, the story moves along a good and consistent clip throughout the book. I believe Mario Acevedo deserves kudos for this given that good and consistent pacing seems to be a slowly dying art form in the modern novel. The writer also came up with interesting ideas for characters, however, these characters while good in concept and idea lacked the more three dimensional qualities that would have made them excellent characters. In fact, the only character that the reader is really able to connect with beyond the surface is the main character, Felix, and even then it is only a “just past the surface” connection.

This brings me to the main issues I found with the novel that prevented me from giving it the rating I felt the ideas and premise deserved. For the purpose of understanding the rest of my review I feel I need to state this statement of fact and that is that the one and only time where brevity in literature has artistic and literary merit in writing is lyrical poetry, which this novel is not. (Note: I know there are those of you who would undoubtedly argue with this statement. I, as an avid Hemingway fan, used to be one of them but have since learned that the art of saying things between the lines is something completely different than brevity. I stress for you who reject this statement to come up with examples and to please let me know what you come up with.) That having been said I will say this, that this book lacked the detail, explanation, expansion of ideas, and deep characterization that would have made it a great book. In other words, it needed to be longer. The book appears to be over edited, which I find is a common problem for books published in this genre. It seems that editor got ahold of this author’s work and immediately began making buts but instead of a scalpel that a good editor would use, the editor took a hatchet to the piece. It was either that or this book was suffering from the other opposite, yet equally common, problem of under editing. If this was the case then the editor made the mistake of not encouraging the writer to expand and completely form the ideas in their work. While under editing maybe the case, this book has the clipped and hedged feel of a book that has been over edited. I would like to note here that I am referring only to the content editing of the work not the copying editing. I did not find fault with the copy editing of this book. What mistakes there were, if any, did not stand out or take me out of the reading in a way that would have shattered my willing suspension of disbelief. No, the copy editor seemed to be on the ball with this one.

Some of the great new takes on the old myths in this book would have been so much better if they were gone into more instead of the brief explanations that we received that left us going “huh, that’s interesting. Golly gee whiz I sure do wish he would say more about this and how it affects the story and characters.” The book I wanted to love so much left me wanting. I wanted more about the author’s vampire myth. I wanted more from the aliens and red mercury. I wanted to know what happened to the nymphos at the end. I wanted more about the unique characters so I could have actually connected with them. I wanted more about who Felix is because we are not, as humans, one dimensional; meaning that while we are undoubtedly shaped by the large traumatic events in our lives, they are still not the only thing that shapes us. So, while I can understand how shooting an innocent Iraqi girl could forever alter who Felix is as person, it is just that, an alteration. It is not the beginning, middle, or end of who he is as a whole person. We can assume that Felix had a life before he was in the Iraq war, which, given his age, is the vast majority of his life to date. Yet, as readers, we are not given much to go on about who he was as a person before the war that could lend credibility to his all-consuming guilt over shooting the girl. People who were raised and shaped a certain way would act differently and to varying degrees to what happened. I, for example, know two Iraq vets who have similar stories but did not take it the same way Felix did or the same as the other vet took it. This lends credibility to the fact that they are essentially two different people and it is a lot of where they come from and their personality that shaped how they handled something so traumatic and potentially life altering. I felt that there needed to be more of who Felix was as a whole person rather than just the one traumatic event that led to his overwhelming guilt and becoming a vampire. If we received more about him, he would be more three dimensional. I then would have been able to connect with who he was as a character and thus relate with empathy for him and the overbearing guilt that he is dealing with. Instead I found myself thinking “Man up and get over it! Stop endangering yourself and others over one thing that happened in your past.” And I hated myself for thinking that because what happened was a tragedy and shouldn’t be treated the way my thoughts treated it. The issues characterization of Felix is a great example of the overarching problems in the book, in that it needed more substance.

Now, as a person who chooses urban fantasy as one of their chosen genres to write in, I can understand and empathize with the struggle a writer goes through in trying to decided what and how much to explain. On one hand if you explain too much you leave yourself open to flaws in your world building that readers will lock on resulting in the whole 3D world you are trying to create to come crashing down around you. As well as over explaining makes a writer vulnerable the great mistake of repetition and resentment from the audience for the writer treating them like they are stupid and have to reasoning skill of children. However, if you go to light on the explanations you end up with what we have in this book, and that is a great idea that wasn’t executed to the standard that would have done the idea justice. Instead of the 3D world that an urban fantasy needs to thrive in we were left with a 2D world with the some deep puddles. I wanted to like this book, I really did but I can only go so far as to say that it was ok.

I do feel the need at the end of my review to let you know that I will be buying and reading the 2nd book in this series even though I only found this one to be ok. I chose to do this because upon my finishing the 1st book when I found myself let down when my (admittedly high) expectations were not met I went in search of information on Mario Acevedo and found that this is his first published work nor is his background that of a typical writer. Since writers, especially those from atypical backgrounds for writers, tend to improve as their careers progress (Note: I am excluding the notable exceptions to this stereotype *cough*Stephan “I gave up trying a long time ago” King **cough* and *cough*James “I don’t actually write my own books anymore ” Patterson *cough*) I am willing to give the series another chance based solely on the reason I tried so hard to like this book in the first place, the outstanding original premises and ideas on which these books are written. I hope that the execution and over editing/under explaining that brought this book down will not be a problem for Mario Acevedo, a writer with a vast amount of potential, in future books.


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