Title & Author: Hero of the Day, Tommy McMahon
Genre & Publication Date: Urban Fantasy/Dystopian, June 24, 2013
Book Description: “E.K. Fox was born to become the perfect man. But what does that perfection mean when the world around him is decaying? E.K sets out from a path laden with opportunity in the hopes that saving a dying Midwestern city will bring him the inner peace his perfection never could. Alongside a pack of veteran crime fighters in masks he seeks to restore sanctuary to the City of Fountains. But standing in the Keepers’ way is an evil rooted so deeply in the city, it almost seems to be an impossible task. Can E.K. and the Keepers defeat the three personifications of evil that plague the city? Or will they fall victim, just like so many have before?”
First Line: A soft breeze wearily crawled in under the ever-present moon, caressing E.K.’s face.
My Take: The book was provided to me by the author for review.
This book has a great premise and a story steeped in self-sacrifice, conflict and idealism. The potential is there for a great tale but there are several obstructions that made the read difficult. To me, they seemed present due to inexperience with the craft, as the author certainly has creative talent. Below I’ve outlined the main pain points I came across:
Relatability: E.K. has the perfect life in his hometown. No, really. It’s perfect. Nearly one hundred pages are used to relay this. Everyone loves him. He has a full ride to college. He’s some kind of baseball prodigy. He has a beautiful, smart, popular girlfriend. His family life is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
This baggage-free person does not exist in real life, and even if he did, he’d cut a pretty boring figure in literature. Think of some of the most compelling characters in books. All of them struggle with traumas and betrayals which, in turn, connects them to the reader. Fear of failure is not a plight that draws sympathy. I did appreciate that he later second guessed the decision to leave his life behind, but still, things are too perfect for E.K. and thus he chafes against life? Now there’s a problem I wouldn’t mind having.
Motivation: When he decides to leave everything behind to fight against the evils that are plaguing the city he isn’t compelled to initially because the bad guys are attacking him. It was more of a “Someone has to do something” reasoning. Okay, but why? I needed more.
An important element that drives a story forward in Act One is what author James Scott Bell calls “The doorway of no return”. It’s the event that forces the main character out of his normal and pushes him into the unknown danger or struggle of the plot. He can’t go back and he can’t give up without dire personal (and measureable) consequences. Without this I found it difficult to believe that someone would drop everything and everyone for a vague, unspecified mission to fight crime (other than outrageous ingratitude and a planetary sized ego, which I could see wasn’t what the writing intended to convey). This leads me to…
Believability: I can suspend reality for a good story or movie with the best of them, but events still need to act in accordance with the world in which they occur. As this is an urban fantasy set on Earth, the rules of gravity still apply (barring any super powers), so when someone takes a huge fall, they should suffer an equally huge injury. Bruises and broken bones should affect them for an amount of time in accordance with what is commonly known of such injuries. When this doesn’t happen it breaks the “fictive dream” for the reader.
The same is true for coincidences. They work for the reader if they get the heroes into trouble, but not if they’re used to get them out of it.
The Magical: The themes in this story have a great scope and ponder the big questions such as good vs. evil, and the moral imperative of the individual faced with true darkness in the world. The idea of good and evil intermingled within the villains and heroes alike was one I enjoyed and the ending was strongly written.
I applaud creative attempts that challenge us to think about something greater than ourselves. It’s why I think the written word is one of life’s most powerful tools.
The Mundane: For the reasons stated above and from a craft standpoint, the execution of this book needs review. The omniscient point of view, from an otherwise third person narrative, along with moments in which the narrator interjects with commentary, disrupted the story. This prohibited me from really sharing E.K.’s head space and experiencing the events through him.
Summary of Thoughts: It’s my opinion that this book could use an editor’s skilled eye. Many of the craft issues could be addressed, the themes strengthened and clarified, plot holes filled, dialogue improved and the story paired down to make every word count. I can sense the enthusiasm and desire to really say something in this book, but additional work is required to get it there.
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here
Many thanks to author Tommy McMahon for providing a copy to review.
To find out more about the author and this book, check out his website here