Monday, July 12, 2021

Review - Anomaly

(The Blood Race #0.5)
by K. A. Emmons
Date: 2020
Publisher: K. A. Emmons
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novella
Pages: 150
Format: e-book
Source: author

14-year-old Ion Jacobs just wants to belong to a family and feel normal. But his past is a mystery, his future is a question, and his whole life is about to change.

Tossed from one foster home to another and shadowed by his mysterious past, Ion fears he’ll never fit in — until one day, when he drops a pencil and instead of falling to the floor…it floats.

Shocked and bewildered, Ion searches deeper and discovers an undeniable truth about himself: he possesses extraordinary powers beyond his control. Healing injuries, levitating objects, and superhuman strength come as easy to him as breathing. Now Ion only has one goal: make sure no one finds out what he’s capable of.

Struggling to keep his newfound abilities a secret, Ion finds himself more isolated than ever — until he meets a mysterious stranger in the woods who seems to understand Ion better than anyone else. As tensions rise at home with his new foster family, Ion finds it harder and harder to control his powers. And when he accidentally sparks a fire that nearly destroys their home, Ion is forced to face the reality of his situation: not only is he capable of healing — he’s also capable of fatal destruction.

Anomaly is the gripping paranormal prequel to The Blood Race series by K.A. Emmons.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I recently read The Blood Race, which was the first book published in this series. I was curious to try this novella-length freebie for a couple of reasons: 1) to see if the author's writing had improved over the course of three years, and 2) to see if some backstory would help me understand the characters in The Blood Race better. The answers? 1) no, and 2) yes.

I should love this series. But there are some major problems with the writing, pacing, and character development that prevent me from doing so. Anomaly moves along at a much quicker pace than The Blood Race, with fewer halts in the action so that people can have boring conversations. I did like getting to know Ion in this book. And we actually get to know something about him! With The Blood Race, it was almost as if we were missing something, and we were dropped into the middle of the story with characters we were supposed to already be familiar with (which is a problem, given that it was the "first" book). I never really got a feeling for who Ion was in The Blood Race, even though other characters kept telling us what kind of person he was. (Unfortunately, these explanations didn't mesh with what we were shown.) In Anomaly, we meet a confused 14-year-old kid who's having some very strange things happen to him. And he has no support system because he's a foster kid who's been placed with a family of stereotypes. So... life is rough.

Unfortunately, that little bit of character development in Ion doesn't cancel out all the other problems the book has. The main character's voice is off; he's supposed to be a 14-year-old boy, but he talks like a 20-something woman who reads lots of self-help and spirituality books. Most of the characters speak very formally, but it's not as bad as in The Blood Race, where you could be forgiven for thinking there'd been some sort of time-slip into Regency England. What really gets my goat about these books, however, is the editing. The continuity problems are awful here, just as they are in The Blood Race, and I'm starting to wonder if editors just skim and call it a day. A particularly egregious example of what I'm talking about can be found in chapters 15 and 16. It starts by referring to a "navy" sky. So it's probably night (or close to it). But a few pages later, we're told the sidewalk is painted a "pale pinkish-gray by the setting sun". Two paragraphs later, it's "dark". Two paragraphs after that, "the sky was getting dark". I mean, it doesn't take a professional editor to know that the sun doesn't bounce up and down like a rubber ball... but that appears to be what's happening here!

If I were to recommend this series to someone, I'd probably tell them to start with Anomaly. It sets up the character of Ion Jacobs much better than in the official first book of the series. But I'd be very careful about who I recommended this series to; if they're detail oriented and prefer characters who seem at home in their chosen genre and time period, I might suggest they look elsewhere.

Premise: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing: 2/5
Editing: 1/5
Originality: 3/5
Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall Rating: 2.38 out of 5 ladybugs