Titled: “Not everything is as it appears…”
Poor editing* tends to be a big complaint when it comes to self-published or “indie” books, so I am pleased to say first and foremost that is not a huge problem here. There are a few issues and some redundant sentences, but the story mostly flows along without too many errors. The formatting is also well done – no problems with strange characters or fancy text.
As for the story itself, it starts off with a terrible incident that draws you right in. It makes you wonder why this happened and how the main character, Ann, will deal with it. She is obviously an immature pre-teen who has just experienced the most traumatic event of her young life. It is the kind of thing you don’t expect to happen in small town America, yet it has happened to her.
From Chapter 1, an intriguing tone is set for the story – one of private misery and small-town secrets. You can tell Ann wishes desperately for a very different life. Her mother, Tam, is preoccupied with her own local self-importance and rising “above” the townsfolk, who she looks down on as nobodies. The welfare of her children is the least of her self-centered concerns.I was really engrossed by Ann’s story. From the start, I hated her family, and that feeling of angry futility only got worse as I read.
However, Ann is only one of many characters in this book. There is also Allen May who I wanted to like… and who disappointed me even more than Ann’s family. But Ann’s own personal tragedy is the common thread that ties the other characters’ tales together.
“Ready or Not” is almost like a collection of inter-related vignettes that painfully collide. There is no idyllic family life or childhood here; just desperation that ultimately leads the two main characters to spectacularly self-destruct.
If this is an accurate portrayal of middle America small-town life (I grew up in a large university town myself), all I can think of is a line from Dar Williams’ song, “Iowa”, where she sings, “And we walk in the world of safe people, and at night we walk into our houses and burn.”
All in all, this is a heart-wrenching read and a reminder that not everything is as it appears on the outside.
*She went on to explain to me in a separate post more about editing.
Self-editing is hard and it’s always great to have a critical beta-reader to go through and point out any problems with grammar, sentence structure, continuity, etc. I rely on at least 3 beta-readers, and I have 2 writers who use me to beta.
But your editing is really good! So many indie books out there are very, very sloppy these days. Your book makes me wonder why you didn’t seek out an agent or publisher, because it’s obviously that good.