BOOK REVIEW: ECHO AMONG STARS by JoAnna S. Morris

As I was sorting through my e-books and making sure they were downloaded onto the Kindle (so that I can just take them out when I’m done finally reading them, and be able to just sort through the 500+ books by the “downloaded” tab) this one decided to open whether I liked it or not.

That being said, I decided that was my sign to start with this one. And…well…it’s not overwhelming.

First off, I can clearly tell when the book was written, or at least when it was conceived, just by reading the first chapter. It’s another take on the Hunger Games/Divergent/etc variety of story. That’s fine; I liked those books and have liked others similar to them. They do tend to fall into pretty extreme categories, but I’m generally willing to give them a try. It took a bit to figure out what the character was talking about; I see now that some of what was mentioned is in the blurb, which of course I didn’t remember off the top of my head. Nonetheless, it’s all explained fairly quickly, and we get sucked along with the story.

The problem comes with a combination of the pacing and of the plotting of the book. The pacing is incredibly rushed–and the plot is formulaic in a way that makes romance novels look…well, novel. It reads as if the author were given a list like “10 Plot Points You Won’t Want To Forget In Your Dystopian YA Novel!” and just wrote through the list scene by scene. We’re not given much in the way of character depth, very little about the world is ever explained at all, and relationships spring up for all the reasons you’d expect them to: fate, and the required triangle-esque complication.

As far as I can tell, the book takes place over maybe a week, if I’m generous. There is a difference between the stakes driving the story to be a race against the clock, and rushing the plot, and this book didn’t figure that out. In this week, our main character falls in love with a total stranger, makes friends with–then enemies–then friends? with another girl in the groups, has at least two other men fall for her, and decides that Emotions Are Complicated with a friend from her youth. …mmkay. I’m willing to hand-wave a lot for Fate And The Plot, but it just seemed a bit much. The “twist” at the end was telegraphed about six miles away, and we are left with a cliffhanger of sorts and only a third of a story.

Oh, did I mention I found out this is a trilogy?

Yeah.

That being said, there’s something just compelling enough to keep me reading, and I breezed through it in an evening. I like the characters despite their cardboard cut-out existence, and the lead female’s treatment of the male posturing is a welcome change from the usual swooning heroine. As always, I will note that this is listed as a debut, and as such I’ll give it a bit more leeway than I usually would. I don’t know that I’d buy the other books, but if I found them at a library or some such, I’d think about picking them up. I have just enough curiosity to see where it all goes to warrant that.

Rating: ** 1/2 (Almost Worth a Look)

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