Title & Author: Little One, Nate Philbrick
Genre & Publication Date: Contemporary Fantasy, April 26, 2015
Book Description: “When the evacuation of a war-torn town goes wrong and separates Daniel from his three-year-old sister, Litty, Daniel is determined to do whatever it takes to get her back. To do so, Daniel will have to survive both the deadly Akorian wilderness and a ruthless military commander and come to grips with the blood on his own hands. In a world where nature is a deadly force and the line between war and sport is blurred, freedom comes at a high cost.”
First Line: It was the twenty-fourth of July, a year after the signing of the treaty that put an end to the scathing War of the Mountains, and little Litty was hungry.
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
Definitely a lot of action and tension in this story. The main character, Daniel, is forced into a dangerous journey to protect the person he loves most in the world. That motivation makes his actions authentic and pulled me in to the emotional turmoil he experienced.
Things went a awry as the story progressed. I ran into a lot of “speed bumps”, to coin a term used by writing coach James Scott Bell. Several issues kept interrupting the story and over the course of the book accumulated into a negative reading experience for me:
Daniel’s motivation is set. I had a firm grasp of why he was doing what he was doing, and I believed his actions. My trouble came in understanding the motivations of other characters Daniel met along the way. For example, a major side character, Ram, decides to join Daniel on his journey after only knowing him for one day. He’s fully aware that where Daniel plans to go is life threatening. That he empathizes with Daniel’s predicament makes sense but I had a hard time believing he’d actually risk his own life. Altruism aside, they didn’t actually know each other. I wished he had a more believable motivation or an agenda of his own. And why would Daniel even trust this guy?
Later on Ram risks his life to rescue a different character that he, again, has only known a few days. “What’s with this guy?” I kept asking myself. “Doesn’t he have anything to live for?”
The friendships and bonds between characters seemed entirely too rushed. They’d know each other just a few days and then, bingo-bango, they’re ready to rearrange their lives to help one another. Granted, a book doesn’t always have years in the span of its story to establish these bonds, but for me the writing just didn’t make them ring true. Maybe this is because of the character motivation issue.
Damsel in distress syndrome
Absolutely every female character in this story required rescuing at one point or another. Some, like Daniel’s little sister, I understood, but couldn’t the rest have gotten themselves out of a jam without a man facilitating it? I’m not a feminist burning my bras over here. I happen to like my bras, but so often literature displays a distinct lack of women of agency in its pages and it bugs me.
The Magical: The character, Tess, was great. She had a nice character arc and, although she needed protecting/rescuing in the first half of the book, she became stronger as the story progressed.
Also, and I know this isn’t relevant to the story, but that is one rockin’ book cover. Kudos for finding a great graphic designer.
The Mundane: When characters were separated and then met up again, there’d be a rehash (sometimes paragraphs long) as they relayed everything that happened to them. This bloated several chapters and killed the action of the moment, especially since I’d already read the things they talked about at the time they happened.
Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $2.99 on the Kindle. There is great potential here but reading this one was like driving on a bumpy road: There might be a great panoramic view out my window, but I’m too distracted to really appreciate it. I think a good developmental editor could help clean out some of the repetition and tweak the issues I mentioned above. In its current form I’m afraid I just didn’t enjoy it.
Many thanks to author Nate Philbrick for providing a copy of the book to review.
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Want to know more about this author and his work? Explore his website at Flash Flood Fiction