The 13th Apostle by Raina Smith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Speculation about a thirteenth apostle has been around since, well, the apostles. Most biblical scholars call Matthais, chosen to replace the traitor, Judas, the thirteenth apostle. But stories of a thirteenth who existed alongside the original twelve still persist. The author takes that idea and adds an apocalyptic aspect that could have made for a very interesting story.
But- Oh, the buts.
First, the book is very, very overwritten, almost to the point of purple prose in spots. I don’t know if it’s just her style, or if she was trying to make a page or word count goal, but there is just way, way too much here. Adjectives are overused (“coarse, thick, wiry hair” and “sexy, black, high-heeled expensive designer shoes”). Adverbs make very little sense (the character with the above hair combing his hands through it “phychotically”) and there are sometimes several in one sentence. Now, I am not Stephen King, and I don’t think you should kill all the adverbs, but restraint is certainly called for. Mechanical errors abound, as well. Commas where there shouldn’t be, and no commas where there should be was probably the most common error. Word choice was also an issue. “Threw” where it should have been “through”, “toe” instead of “tow”, and “affect” where “effect” was correct are a few of those problems. She also tended to use big, fancy words that are uncommon and unusual, like “benignant” and “glabella”. Knowing big words is nice, but if the average reader has to stop reading and get a dictionary to know what the author is talking about, that’s not helping the story any.
Characters come off as caricatures in most cases. The main antagonist, Falene (she of the above described shoes, which, by the way, are described in exactly the same way every single time) screams and foams at the mouth so much she becomes comical rather than sinister. Father Joseph, the protagonist, complains about mundane things so much, he comes off as whining, to the point of “get on with it already” annoyance. Others aren’t much better.
The plot, while an interesting premise, is kind of one-dimensional, with no subplots interwoven (although there were opportunities for exploring possibilities). She seemed to do just enough research. Enough to add elements, but not enough to use them effectively or, in several cases, believably. There was very little showing and a lot of telling. Characters talked to themselves for pages of infodumps that could have been better done as flashbacks or action scenes. Large sections moved at a really slow pace, even when there was action happening.
I could go on. This is a self-published book, and I know I am being hard on it. Very hard. But independently published works are burdened with a wide perspective that they are inferior to traditionally published books. There are independent books out there that are good- well-written, carefully edited, and formatted. This isn’t one of them, and it doesn’t help the bad rep. And, yes, you do find errors in books published by the big houses, but not like this and not on just about every page. This one could have really benefitted from both a good content and copy editor. It “had potential”, as they say, and it gets two stars rather than one because of the interesting idea.
Bottom line? A good story wrapped in a badly written book. I will most likely pass on the sequel.
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