Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Review: Invisible Justice

Invisible Justice
Invisible Justice by Kim Jewell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

At the core of this book is a competently-told story with some likeable characters. Unfortunately, there are issues, both with the editing (relatively easily fixed, though there are so many errors it would be a lot of work), and with elements that are convenient for the story but not, to me, believable.

Language issues first. One of the most reliable ways I know to spot a book that's been professionally edited is that it will consistently have commas before terms of address: "As you know, Bob", "Hi, Senator", "What up, bro?". Comparatively few indie authors seem to know this rule, and this author is no exception.

Then there are the homonym errors. We have "discrete" where the author means "discreet" (wrong twice, right once), "phased" instead of "fazed", "peaked" for "piqued", "jam" for "jamb" (wrong three times, right once), "affect" for "effect", "pour" for "pore", "lent" for "leaned".

There are phrases that change grammatical direction partway through: "They were both too caught up in their celebration that neither one of them noticed", "when the game was over and victorious", "information of activities and information", "the drawer contents were filled with".

There are slightly misused cliche phrases: "an advanced notice" instead of "advance notice", "first thing's first" for "first things first", "a living quarter" for "living quarters", "if worse came to worse" instead of "if worst came to worst" (twice).

There are two words where it should be one word: "with out", "earth shattering", "ground breaking", "bomb shell", "fool proof", "tip toe".

There's also one instance of "twin's" where it should be "twins'", and an outright misspelling: "bonafied" for "bona fide".

At one point, the business-speak "deliverables" is used. I really hope kids don't say that, that they still say "goals" like normal people.

The oddest thing, which I noticed in another book I reviewed recently, is the avoidance of "had". What I mean is that when you're narrating events in the past tense, and you want to indicate that something had already happened previously to the past moment you're describing, you use the word "had" (like I just did in this sentence: "had already happened"). This author rarely does that, which makes for many moments of temporal confusion. I think that somewhere out there someone is advising indie authors not to use "had" for some strange reason. That person is wrong, and should stop.

There are also a few cases of "may" where (to keep the past tense consistent) it should be "might".

Any of these issues individually are mildly annoying. All of them together were highly distracting.

There's the odd spoiler from here on in, because I'm going to talk about events in the book that broke my suspension of disbelief.

I'm not talking here about the superpowers, of course. I found this book by searching Amazon for "superhero novel". I'm expecting superpowers. What I'm not expecting is that one of these 17-year-olds happens to be a security expert with a private pilot's license who's allowed to carry passengers, and another is such an accomplished hacker that he can break into the visitor logs of a secure federal prison.

(He's no detective, though. He says at one point: "Plus, he went to jail for something - we don't know exactly what - but whatever it was, it must have been illegal." Astonishing, Sherlock!)

The other big problem I had with something that was plot-convenient but made no real sense came right at the end. The kids have successfully restrained two thugs. They know the villain has found them out, that he knows they know. They know, because they've just seen clear proof, that he would have no problem going after their families. They know, because they've just seen clear proof, that he will kill ruthlessly. He is almost literally holding a smoking gun, and would be eminently arrestable if they restrained him, which, again, they can do. Sure, explaining to the police without giving away their powers would be tricky, but weighed against the obvious threat to their families, that would seem like a minor problem to me.

Here's the conversation:

"Why don't we just immobilize him like we did the other two earlier? That way we know he can't hurt us."
"Because he'll know we're here, watching him. If he realizes that, he'll suspect we're up to something."

That's the reason they don't stop him? Because then he'll know they're onto him? He already knows that. And if they stop him and get him arrested, which they could totally do, then...

Then the author won't be able to run the same villain in the sequel. That's the real, utterly transparent reason. The villain must escape so that he can threaten them again.

It's like a poorly planned roleplaying game. The excessive abilities of the characters (again, not the superpowers, the other abilities), and the villain escape at the end.

I persevered through all the editing issues because the story seemed promising, but that ending killed it for me and dropped the rating from three to two stars.

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