Hello, loyal readers! Time for another Indie Wednesday–Where I review a hip-indie book that’s worth reading!
Serpenteens (not to be confused with the band) by Pol McShane is a book about a group of teen superheroes who can turn into snakes and then control the weather to protect the environment from evil-doers. Sounds a little like Captain Planet meets Cobra Commander.
Why I Picked It Up
I like snakes and I like things that are different. I heard about it on Twitter through Indie Author Network and thought it sounded interesting enough to pick up. My wife likes snakes even more than I do, so I thought she’d get a kick out of it, too.
What I Liked About It
The book opens with a very strong chapter in which the main characters’ house is being hit by a tornado. The sentence structure is clear and the narrative builds tension as the tornado tears apart the house. The first chapter ends on an appropriate and interesting hook.
Also, I love the general premise of being able to turn into a snake.
I’d do it.
Imagine if somebody was talking to you at the bookstore while you’re trying to read, and then you just start to morph into a thirty foot long constrictor right in front of them.
Yeah, not so interested in what I’m reading now, are ya, bitch?
(Yes, I’ll be using my powers for evil, thank you.)
Anywho… It’s clear the author has some chops at creating and exploiting tense action scenes AND planting hooks.
What Could Be Better, If Anything
Despite possessing said skills, our author then chooses not to use them!
After our great first chapter, we get the dreaded exposition—that’s right, it turned out our killer first chapter was just something that happens later in the novel. This type of opening is a real pet peeve for me. It basically tells me, “Oh hey, I know my beginning is really boring, but I promise it’ll get better later on! After… you know… reading the boring part.”
And I found the next chapter and a half very dull—it was hardcore info-dump. Our first-person narrator tells us all about his family, house, life, et cetera and there’s no actual plot moving us through these pages. That’s another no-no in my book. It’s like pausing a good movie after the first scene so your mom can describe its characters and setting to you.
So I skimmed and skipped chapter two and the first part of chapter three, when we return to the story.
Notice I say story and not plot—we’re finally given some character interaction, some dialogue, and some things are happening, but they don’t seem to be related by cause and effect—which, as you’ll remember, is the definition of Plot.
But the sample ends with a great scene—The main character shedding his entire skin like a snake. And it’s not quick and easy; it’s a mess and he’s grossed out.
So I love that part!
All in all, I’m interested, though there were some parts I had to gloss over. If I had to “fix” this opening, I’d just start the story with the skin-shedding thing; It’s way cooler and there’s no exposition so important we can’t glean it contextually from the narrative. Info-dumps are lazy writing.
Anyway, I would continue to read this book, but the Author committed the ULTIMATE crime:
It’s not available on my E-Reader! No Smashwords, no nook, no kobo, just Kindle, or a hardcopy. But I want an ebook!
I do wanna keep reading, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other options.
As always, check it out for yourself and leave a comment!