By: Sandra Madera
Genre: Paranormal Thriller (possibly YA, but I didn't classify it that way because I didn't get the feeling that's what the author intended when she wrote it)
Coffee Beans: 2/5 – the story has the potential to be interesting
Spoilers: No. Well, maybe a little
Favorite Line: "…she answered briskly, brushing off Laura's concern as if it were a fly that needed to be swatted." (ebook, pg 54)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free in exchange for this honest review
Sometimes it's hard to review a book.
Sometimes, there's just so much you want to comment on, but it all gets scrambled in your head and you can't figure out how to put it all down so that it makes sense. That's what I ran into with this book so I'm going to try and limit what I bring up and try to keep it as on point as I can.
Here we go.
Restraint is the illegitimate child that resulted from a one-night stand between Jane Austen and Bram Stoker. Set in 1884 America and England, Restraint is a story about two sisters whose father dies, leaving them to be shipped off to live with an estranged uncle in England. The only problem is, there are vampires in the mix. And they're after Laura (Even though that's the crux of the story, you don't find that out until well after the halfway point).
The idea of the book is interesting. I like that the vampires are cruel, cold beasts. It's about time vampire stories get back to their roots. But the author's execution in telling the story is poor. Also, I felt the first 125 pages could've been summed up (or given as snippets of back story later on in the book) and the book should have started on 126 with the discovery of her father's journal.
Now onto specifics:
First of all, head hopping. I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be in the protagonist's head throughout the entire book, but there were countless times the reader was told things there's no way the protag could've known.
Secondly, vocabulary. We're in 1884, stick with the language and sayings from that period. For the most part, Madera did a good job getting down the vernacular and vocabulary (from what I would expect it to be, anyway), but there were times she would throw in word or phrase that just didn't fit and would completely pull me out of the story.
While reading through the book, one thing kept standing out to me. The story was overworked while at the same time still extremely raw. There were a lot of little things (and some not so little things) that could've been fixed by tightening up the book.
There was a lot of telling (sometimes telling the reader the same thing 3 or 4 different times in the same paragraph). It's like Madera didn't trust the reader to figure out on their own what she was hinting at. I think this issue also affected the fact that there wasn't any real sense of urgency or risk in the story. If we'd gone through what Laura was going through, then maybe there could've been.
Incorrect use of many things. Exclamation points! ….ellipses…. and adjectives, to name a few. A lot of times, a adjective was used in the completely wrong context, giving the reader a wrong impression of what the character was feeling at the time. It threw me out of the story more than once. For example, there's a scene (well, several scenes, actually) where Laura is very tired/sick/drained/etc and "hops" out of bed. wrong. Maybe she crawls/slides/slinks out of bed, but with what she went through, she most certainly didn't hop out of bed.
I felt that Laura, the main character, was a very inconsistent and unreliable character. Her thoughts and emotions were all over the board and couldn't be relied upon. Also, she didn't have a strong enough arc.
And lastly, the cover.
I don't say this easily, in fact, I debated weather to even mention it at all. But in the end I felt it would be unfair if I didn't since I almost always make some sort of comment about a books cover in my reviews.
The cover is an author's first impression on their reader. It's so, so, so important to have the right cover for your book, for traditionally published authors, but even more so for self-published authors. With traditionally published books, covers can go through dozens and dozens of designs, focus groups, restarts, votes, etc before the final product hits the shelf. You get lots of input and opinions. Unfortunately, that tediously long process usually isn't the case with self-published books. The same thing is true with editing.
Madera designed her covers herself, she tells you on her blog it's her own artwork. And while she's a talented artist, using drawings for the covers made the books appear a bit amateurish. Had I been browsing for a book to read and I came across this one, it wouldn't have been one I picked up. I strongly suggest for any self-publishing author to spend the extra money and get your cover professionally designed as well as your book professionally edited.
Okay, I know this review might sound a little harsh, I tried everything in my power for it not to seem that way, but at the end of the day, it's my job to be honest and give you guys my candid review about a book. It's up to you if you like it or not. And as I always say, pick it up and read it for yourself. Your opinion might be very different than mine.
Happy reading, my friends!