What makes a book good?
It has been a week of illness in the Erwin household so I'm a bit off schedule with my blog posts. I missed my weekly goal posts. It was a mostly successful week but I'll catch you up on the particulars next week. For this post I want to discuss only one my goals. In my quest to read 75 books this year I finished two more this week to bring to total to 6 thus far.
Today I'm going to compare these two novels in tale of the tape fashion.
RESONANCE is a dark fantasy novel chocked full of demons, necromancers, and other worldly spirits set in Maryland. The heroine is a self-centered rebellious young woman who struggles to accept the fate of mankind rests on her tattooed shoulders.
An Uncommon Crusade is an inspirational work of historical fiction with a trio of protagonists spanning from the dark forests of thirteenth century Germany, through treacherous alpine passes, to a sprawling estate in Egypt.
Both are compelling reads that I had a hard time stepping away from.
RESONANCE was written by Avery Debow.I have never met Avery but I've read her blog for several years now. Avery is an edgy writer of dark fiction, a roller derby gal, and someone who at least seems to be the type to speak her mind even if that means ruffling a few feathers.
An Uncommon Crusade was written by Caron Guillo. Caron is in my critique group and I see her nearly every Monday. Caron is a mom, an international tour guide who spends a good bit of time in Italy, a mild-mannered woman of what I'd call a conservative nature.
Both are extraordinary writers of a vastly different styles and subject matter.
I purchased An Uncommon Crusade in softcover for $14.95 at Caron's release part a few weeks ago.
I purchased RESONANCE as a $2.95 ebook for my nook.
An Uncommon Crusade is of rather standard length for a novel, somewhere around 100,000 words I'd guess.
RESONANCE is much longer. I haven't read enough on my nook to be certain but hazarding a guess I'd say the novel is at least 180,000 words.
As you can see the differences in the two are many. And yet both captured me. Drew me in. Kept me reading until wee hours of the night.
Begging the question. Why? What was the common denominator that made me like them?
Sure both were written by friends, one an online friend of the blogosphere and the other a friend I meet with every week in person. But I have dozens of writerly friends. About every fifth book I read was written by a friend these days and not every one compels me to keep reading the way these two titles did.
Now these days I read as a writer first. Meaning I often stop at he end of every sentence and think about ways to edit the line. I did very little of that with these two stories. The writing was simply strong enough that compulsion was lost in my need to read more.
And the very root of that need was my vested interest in the characters.
The plots were good but I was drawn in by the point of view characters. In both novels their needs, fears, and motivations perfectly rendered. That is not to say any of them were perfect. Far from it actually and I applaud both writers for shining light on their flaws as it was those imperfections that made them seem real. Made me at times wanna slap some sense into them. Made me fear things would not turn out well. And they didn't. Not in either book. Both novels left a few unanswered questions at he end. Not so much that I said," Hey what the hell? You can't end here. I wanna know ...."
But enough that I finished the last word and pondered the fate and future for the stories inhabitants.
So while I already knew that characters were my favorite part of a story and that I'm more of a character driven writer than a plot person the exact dynamics of this were made even clearer by the enjoyment I found in two very different novels.