Title: MoonbeamsAuthor: Lakisha Spletzer
Release Date: March 19, 2011
Pages: 342 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: ebook review copy from the author
A pinch of danger
Invite five angry deities.
Open and serve your new heap of trouble.
Book 1 of the Beams and Light Trilogy.
(I apologize for lack of citations for quotes in this review, but I read it on my Kindle and do not have the proper pages to cite each quotes from.)
College students Megan, Cory, and Rob expect to go out one night and have fun clubbing, but a strange light in a tobacco field takes them to the magical dimension known as the Veil. Taken in by warrior princess Shayleah after the three are nearly killed in the middle of a battle, Megan comes to dislike Shayleah quickly while Cory wants to know more about her. As they travel with Shayleah's party and learn how to defend themselves in this new world, a prophecy about the arrival of three from another world. These three humans may be the key to ending the war that has been raging in the Veil for many years.
The characters, from the beginning of the novel to the end, are unable to attain greater depth or even a little bit of sympathy. Cory, Megan, and Rob the book's main characters, are never developed as characters so they can become more than who they are upon their introduction. When the three humans were upset about not getting respect, I wanted to tell them they had to earn it first. Shayleah's situation with all the pressure on her from her mother and her weariness with being the Peacekeeper is slightly interesting, but nothing new. The minor characters are of no interest and once or twice, they are reduced to being plot devices or will act out-of-character in a way that seems done solely to further the plot.
Megan is a particularly unlikable character. She's less of an actual heroine and more of a designated heroine, someone we're supposed to like and/or tolerate the behavior of just because she's the heroine. Growing up with money is no excuse to be spoiled; being used to getting what you want is no excuse for being a bad person to others when you don't get it. She never shows any redeeming aspects and remains a spoiled, vain, and overall terrible person lacking in a sense of self-preservation for the entire novel. She thinks more of what she wants than what would save herself and this nearly gets her killed in several situations, such as when she smarts off at a queen.
The writing reads as smoothly as a detailed script to a movie at points and I could see it all happening clearly in my head. However, it tells too much, shows too little, and is very repetitive. Certain sentences are fragmented ("Merciless eyes, handsome looks, evil in a charismatic misleading face.") and others provide unclear or bad mental imagery ("The knowledge came too late as unconsciousness reached up and sucked her in."). The unstable narration jumps around between paragraphs to almost every character it can and readers who like for their narration to be stable or have a pattern will be annoyed. The high point of the writing came when fight scenes approached; then it would tighten up, describe what was going on with great detail, and gain better focus. If the writing had been like that the entire book, it would have been for the better.
This may be a highly subjective pet peeve because my dream job is to become a professional editor, but I find it heavily distracting and irritating to come across grammatical errors in a novel. At multiple points during the novel, my inner editor chimed in while I read and made corrections. There should be a comma here, it would say, this comma doesn't need to be here, this word doesn't need to be capitalized in that context, you're using the wrong word (here, the word "insure" was used where it should have been "ensure),... If I knew how to shut it up, I would. Moonbeams would have benefited greatly from further editing. And I just needed a chance to rant about this.
Certain scenes made me uncomfortable in ways they weren't meant to. One such example is a scene where one male (Lentran) tells two other males (Cory and Rob) that they are "responsible for keeping [their] female friend [Megan] quiet and out of trouble." I highly doubt the intent was there or even if the implications were realized, but it's still there and made me squirm in my seat. Then there is a remark from a character about how Shayleah surrounds herself with more men than women as if it were a bad thing. Admittedly, this comes from a character whose ideals are noted as outdated and wrong, but this is an attitude I hate both in books and real life.
When Ayenlad is being racist, considering anyone that isn't an elf beneath him, and when Queen Nayenleah makes a blanket statement about all women wanting "a home, a mate and children," it is called out and refuted. This is great. What isn't great is how heavy-handed and clumsily these messages are rightfully called out as wrong and/or outdated. Then lines like "She was a warrior, not some sniveling, incapable woman. She was stronger than this. She would be stronger than her emotions" when Shayleah is crying slip by without a word. Crying does not make a woman sniveling or incapable, thank you. Strong women cry too.
Not only does it end on a cliffhanger (a pet peeve for many a reader, including myself), but the it is anticlimactic. The book suddenly ends and there is no sense of resolution. Some readers may be okay with this because Moonbeams is the first in a series, but it didn't work for me. A book can end in a cliffhanger and still have a sense of resolution regarding the plot line(s) and this lack of resolution regarding any point of the major plot lines feels like a flaw. Cliffhangers are one thing because it is possible to have resolution and use cliffhangers, but having no resolution about anything and then a cliffhanger is a whole other bowl of soup.