Monday, May 17, 2010

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Gayle Ann Williams

Tsunami Blue
Dorchester Love Spell, Mar. 2010

Book Blurb:

With her badass rain boots, her faithful dog, and the ability to predict the monster tsunamis that have reduced the US to a series of islands, Kathryn O’Malley isn’t afraid of much. Cut off from all society, she takes to the airwaves as Tsunami Blue, hoping to save something of humanity as the world around her crumbles. But Blue should be afraid—because her message reaches the wrong ears.

Now she’s the target of ruthless pirates known as Runners who want to use her special talents for their own profiteering—as soon as they can find her. Blue’s only shot at survival lies with the naked stranger who washes up on her rocky beach. A man who might just be working for Runners himself. Torn between suspicion and attraction, the two will have to navigate a surging tide of danger and deceit if they hope to stay alive.

This is Waterworld meets Mad Max. There are obvious nods to both movies here (Blue’s dog is even named after Mad Max) but Williams puts a fresh twist on it all taking us on one wild ride. It’s been 19 years since the first tsunami wreaked havoc and now survivors travel by boat, scavenge what they can, and eek out life on what bits of land are left. Society is all but gone and the only law is often kill or be killed.

Strong Points:
Pacing – Reader be warned, if you pick up this book you better have a big chunk of uninterrupted alone time because once you start reading you will NOT be able to put it down. The pacing is so fast I got a thumb cramp from pressing the Next Page button on my Kindle. This story grips you from page one and doesn’t let you come up for air until the last. I actually had to read it twice because I flew through it so fast the first time, I was afraid I’d missed some things. I did.

Originality – A post apocalyptic tale of a girl who can talk to the waves and they talk back to her. Don’t know about you but this is a new one for me.

A Kick Ass Heroine – Blue has lived an isolated life by necessity. She's a little bit crazy, doesn’t play nice with others, and has had to fight for her life on more than one occasion. She’s wicked with a knife and isn’t afraid to use it if she feels threatened.

Villains – There’s not one, but two major bad guys hunting for Blue. Add in all the nasty Runners working for them and there’s not a cardboard villain among them. The author does a brilliant job of creating some of the meanest, cruelest bits of semi-humanity left in this island world. These are what I imagine real pirates used to be like and there’s not a Jack Sparrow among them.

Weak Points:
Author Breaks the Show, Don’t Tell Rule – There were several places were the author broke this cardinal rule. I can forgive a little bit but she skimmed over two crucial scenes where Blue is negotiating with each villain for her life. I don’t want to be told about it. I want to feel it, taste it, and see it as it’s happening. I mean, come on, the author spends two chapters on a side trip showing us how Blue saves a little girl in a poker game and doesn’t spend time on these critical confrontations with the bad guys? I felt cheated.

Repetition and Backstory – Sometimes the author deftly weaves in backstory and sometimes, not so much. For instance, during what is supposed to be a passionate kiss, she spends seven paragraphs having Blue recall her first kiss. Blue should be doing nothing but *feeling* with a hot man like Gabriel French kissing the daylights out of her, not taking a trip down memory lane over another guy. There’s also quite a bit of repetition. We hear the story many times of how her uncle died, how she was raised with Runners as a child, and how she was almost raped and had to kill a man at 13. I got it all the first time. I don’t need the author to beat me over the head with the info.

Everybody Hates Blue – So the Runners want Blue to use for their own purposes. Control the girl who can predict the waves and you pretty much control the fate of everyone still left alive. People will pay a lot for that kind of info. Got that. However, we hear over and over and over (here’s that repetition thing) that Blue is considered a witch, a devil, or unholy because she predicts the waves. OK, I could understand a few crazies who might believe this but over half the surviving population? Don’t think so. Blue has been predicting tsunamis for nineteen years and has never been wrong. Why would anyone with half a brain doubt her at this point? The author makes the survivors sound more like superstitious village folk from the 1300s, not modern people who used to live in the age of technology.

In-between Points:
I’m torn here. This is one of those stories where if the hero and heroine had just sat down and had a nice, long talk, a lot of Blue’s fears and anxieties would have been alleviated. But no, Gabriel won’t fess up to what he’s doing or who he is and that keeps Blue guessing. And since the novel is 1st person POV (Blue's obviously), the reader is left in the dark too. OK, so if he’d told her everything at the beginning, the book would have pretty much been over. I understand that. Plus, the whole book spans less than a week and Blue has all these trust issues, so it sorta makes sense that it would take him 5 days to gain her trust enough so that she’d believe him. I can give the author a break on this one.

The ‘IT’ Factor:
The weak points aside, this talented author gives us a double whammy – a creative, original plot and light speed pacing. It received a 4.5 star RT review and it is well deserved. Tsunami Blue is a page turner at its finest. This is the type of rare gem when it comes across an editor or agent’s desk, they are going to scream “I must have it!”

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