I just had to create a new category as I wasn’t intending to do book reviews when I kicked the blog off. However, after a lovely lady called Sarah Tipper dropped me a line and offered me a free copy of her self-published debut novel in exchange for a review on there here pages, I agreed. Partly because I love reading, partly because I admire someone to put their own work out there. And partly as I’m 75% Scottish so can’t resist getting something for free.
So first of all, thank you to Sarah for sending me the book (with bonus photos!). I enjoyed it and I hope that she understands that any criticisms I have are purely my own opinions and offered constructively. While I’ll happily tear Dan Brown‘s stilted dialogue apart (how the hell can anyone read conversations in his books and not stop to wonder how he can write so badly yet still make millions, I’ll never know), I’d rather be more gentle to a first-timer!
The “tl;dr version” is “It was OK, not quite my type of thing but I’d definitely give a sequel a chance and would recommend it to some other people I know”. More detail follows:
Eviscerated Panda : A Metal Tale is the story of a new band who live in Reading and play thrash. It kicks off as they prepare for their first ever gig and then takes us through several months of their lives.
While the central theme is very much one of metal – Ms Tipper’s enthusiasm for her chosen central topic is very obvious – it doesn’t push the characters to the side. The two co-exist nicely, mainly as the majority of them are so into their music in a way in which I’m sure many of us can relate. There are a few “outsiders” and it’s good to see their reactions documented as well. I get a feeling the author has known a few of these people in her lifetime…
It’s a good story with ups and downs, and a lot of inter-personal relationships. I do feel that it reads more like a “chick lit” book with the relationships between many of the leads being central to the story. It flows well, too, and doesn’t ever really hit a point where it feels like the author doesn’t know where to go. The pace is good and very rarely is there a “oh, by the way, this happened off to the side and I forgot to mention it but I’ll just slip it in here” moment which I’ve seen in far too many other books.
Do note that it’s definitely for mature readers, though not excessively so. Ms Tipper hasn’t used gratuitous sex, violence or bad language for its own sake at any point. In fact, it’s actually a little tamer than I was expecting. Given this is written by a girl and we all know how bloody awful they can be once they get going, this is very much A Good Thing.
If I have an issue, it’s that I often found the writing a little simplistic. It’s hard to pinpoint, but the style sometimes jarred or wasn’t comfortable for me to read. I think there was a little too much “He said something about something. She said something else in response” rather than actual dialogue which would have made it read better. However, I persevered because I was enjoying the story and Sarah’s viewpoints being expressed through the characters.
Also, there were quite a lot of people to keep track of. I confess I prefer a story that has a small cast as my ageing brain simply struggles to keep up with too many!
Final fault is the lack of page numbers in the edition I have. Not a world-ending catastrophe, but I like to log my progress on GoodReads and this made it difficult. There are also a couple of editing errors, but by this point I’m getting stupidly picky.
Actually, while digging out the link for the book on Amazon I see that Sarah’s released a sequel (Back in Bamboo) which I could be tempted with!
Linkage for purchases: