A Word on Reviews in General
If you've skipped ahead or looked at the list of finished reviews, you'll already know that I gave this novel a DNF (did not finish). And as such, I'd like to take a moment here to talk about my view on book reviews in general.
If you poke around online for any matter of time, you'll uncover hundreds of blog and websites that review books, both traditional and indie. And that number is growing by the day. And that's awesome. As indies, we know the value of solid reviews (the value of reviews is grossly overstated, but that's a different topic), so it's great to see so many readers willing to take the time to provide this service for authors. However, from what I've seen, there are largely two types of reviews/reviewers out there. This is a gross generalization, but hang with me. The first is the reviewer that is unfailingly polite and nice. They only post/publicize positive reviews, and in general, rate every book they read with high marks. The second type is a reviewer that simply hands out high marks to almost every book they come across. Now, as an author, I love getting positive reviews, but I find it hard to put a lot of stake in these fluffed-up reviews. I understand the reasoning. As indies, we're a family of sorts. And it's an awesome family to be sure. I have yet to have a caustic interaction with anyone in the community. But there comes a point where only saying nice things and sugar-coating everything can have a negative impact. If all we hear is how awesome we are, we are given no reason to try and improve our craft. And that's a disservice.
So this is how I am approaching reviews. Every book I accept for review I intend on reading and reviewing in a completely open and honest manner. I am not going to sugar coat anything. If I think your writing is bland, I'll say so. If the story was so convoluted that I had to reread sections constantly, then I'm going to say so. However, I am not out to butcher the books I read. I hope to give a comprehensive view. I want to uncover the good with the bad, so that we can all learn from it. As an author myself, receiving criticism sucks. It stings. But I've benefited far more from the harsh comments than any of the positive. I've been made aware of bad tendencies and areas in which I can improve. And after the initial saltiness and hurt feelings, I find myself going after those weaknesses with a vengeance.
So that's it. While it may seem at times like I am being unfairly critical, I am doing my darnedest to be as honest and upfront as possible.
And, ultimately, I am just one man. And much of reviewing is subjective. I fully expect some of you to love books I couldn't finish and to despise those I worship. Such is our craft.
All right. I'll step off my soap box. For now.
LX (or Alex for us Earthlings) is a Navigator. On a routine exploration mission that shouldn't have taken more than a few months, an incident propels his spaceship light-years away from his destination, leaving him stranded on the third planet from a star called Sol.
The laws of survival are strict; he must not fraternize with the natives. However, an encounter with Mellie changes everything. She has speed and strength unknown to Earthlings yet strangely similar to his own species. This new discovery compels him to learn more about her and those who call themselves vampires. For her, he will break rules, his people's rules, until there is no turning back.
Meanwhile, mysterious storms are devastating cities. When they learn of their origin and humans fail to see the threat, he, and his new friends, might be their only chance, but to save them and the one he loves, he may have to break his primary Oath: the vow never to take a life.
The Legacy: Fate is a science fiction story of a stranded alien on Earth who meets up with a lovely female vampire and her group of vampire companions. He passes himself off as a vampire (to explain his own abilities) and must try to navigate the strange feelings that blossom toward "Mellie" while also trying to plan his own escape from Earth.
First off, as I said at the beginning, I did not finish this novel. I had to call it quits at around 25%. And, frankly, I could have thrown in the towel sooner. There was a lot to love about the story and characters, but also some things that got in the way and forced me to make the difficult decision. Now, to be clear, my desire is to never DNF any book. But with soooo many on my to-read/review pile, I just can't afford to spend more time with a book that just isn't really clicking for me.
But let's break it all down. (With the understanding that I only read part of it)
I LOVE the premise for the book. It's a mash-up of sorts; mixing aliens and vampires. Now, I have no particular interest in stories of either group. It's just not my thing. But the idea of putting them together immediately piqued my interest when I was initially pitched for review. I thought it could be a fun romp and was imagining "My Favorite Martian" mixed with "(insert any vampire story)." And it was fun, in general. I like the idea of a story focusing on two "outcasts," as neither belong in their world.
The other bright spot for me was the character "Mellie." Of all the characters I encountered, she had the most personality. She could be overly bubbly and quirky at times, and then become the vampire she is. Her dialogue felt the most genuine and had me smiling to myself. She was fun. Plain and simple.
Sadly, one fun character and a great premise does not a great novel make.
The story is told in a first person POV from that of "Alex," the alien. While Alex has been to Earth in the past and studied the world as much as he can, it's been a while, and he is still an alien. Part of what I was looking forward to was that perspective. I thought it would be fun to read from the perspective of an alien stumbling through Earth's strange ways. And Atcheson clearly intended just that. Unfortunately, Alex is the biggest problem. In a lot of ways.
First off, it feels like everything about him was crafted in such a way to be convenient for where Atcheson wanted the story to go. His race just happens to look exactly like humans. The only difference being that they are typically 7+ feet tall. Alex, conveniently, is short for his race, at a very human-normal 6'2". But he's stranded on Earth without his normal food. He can't survive on normal Earth food, which sounds like a great conflict for the story. Wrong. He can subsist on plain ol' water for upwards of a month or more. Crisis averted. But he still has to blend in with the population, and as he quickly falls in with a bunch of vampires, how can he pull this off? Well, he seems to have a host of superpowers, just like those of the vampires, plus some. Every few pages it felt like a new "power" popped up, all too conveniently to solve some problem. He can literally summon items at will, ie a full set of clothes from thin air. There was just no fear of anything bad befalling him. Essentially, he felt invincible. Like Superman. And I hate Superman for the very same reason.
The second problem with Alex is how he reacts to "strange" Earth ways. Now, as I said, Alex has studied Earth extensively, yet at times he misunderstands incredibly basic things. But then at other times, he seems to be a master of the complex, seeming more capable than most real humans. You just can't have it both ways. Again, this seemed a matter of convenience for the author. When humor was desired, he appeared as a foreign buffoon, but when that same technique would complicate a scene, he was 100% knowledgeable and capable. Again, this completely robbed the reader of any tension.
Really, Alex was just so incredibly unbelievable that he was no fun to read.
The last thing that turned me off was the inconsistency of writing and editing quality. While it was never anything flashy, the writing was solid in the beginning, as was the editing. The dialogue was generally awkward and unrealistic, but I could get over that. However, the more I read, the more frequent editing mistakes were found, to a point where there was an average of one a page (on Kindle no less). The writing style, like I said, was serviceable at first, but that too seemed to degrade as I went. I got more "tell" than show, as if the author was telling me about a story and not telling me a story. Of all I've mentioned, this is an area of most subjectivity. It may be just what other readers are looking for. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
I wanted so badly to keep reading this, but in the end I realized that it was becoming a chore. And I hate chores. When I say the story is fun, I meant it. I would have stopped reading far sooner if it wasn't. And the more light-hearted you take it, the more fun it is, though I'm not sure that was the intention.
It honestly pains me to DNF a book for review, especially so early on here. And though I meant all I said about reviewing in the beginning of this post, I still feel like a colossal jerk. Ultimately, I think this novel just needed more time with the author and editor before hitting the "shelves." Because it is a great story idea, and despite all the flaws, there's some gold underneath.
There may be plenty of you out there that vehemently disagree (it has over 20 reviews on Amazon at 4.5), so feel free to check it out for yourself. I admit I may have made a huge mistake not finishing it, as it could have grown into something great. Sadly, as busy as I am, I just couldn't take that chance. I also never gamble.
Super fun premise.
Broken main character and, overall, feels under-cooked.