Scapemaker by Steve V. Cypert
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I feel terrible leaving this book only one star. Absolutely terrible. I wanted to like this so badly. But it was not a good book. I don't know if I downloaded an un-proofed copy, or if everyone else was able to look past all the mistakes, but the whole thing was just a mess.
I was able to download this for free from Smashwords with a code - otherwise the book is $2.99. And if I had paid $2.99 for this book, I'd want a refund. I'd actually be mad if I paid money for this. Again, I feel terrible saying this, but it's true.
Mr. Cypert could have used a serious proofer before publishing this and charging money for it. Unfortunately, I think there's just too much wrong with it to be considered "good" even if I liked the concept (which I did). The concept is something I haven't read or heard of too much, and it is an interesting way of portraying the dream world. However, the copy I downloaded from Smashwords reads more like a first draft than a finished product. I sincerely urge Mr. Cypert, if he is dead set on making this into a profitable series, to hire and pay for a professional proof-reader before continuing with selling the second book (and if he did hire one before publishing this one, he should get a refund). I wish him the best, but at this point I wouldn't consider this anywhere close to finished.
In list format I will discuss my problems (and I really hope that the author takes this as constructive criticism because that's how it's meant - I am sorry if it comes off as harsh, but I really think this needs a lot of help):
1. The book is way too wordy. The minutiae of details involved in the simple setting down of a purse and noticing that household chores weren't done was overwhelming. And it was like this for just about every action in the book. The descriptions of actions actually hurt the actions themselves. It took forever for something to happen that should have happened in a couple of seconds. Dialogue was also uncomfortable and drawn out in many places. I could not hear any of these conversations in my head as an actual conversation.
2. There were spelling, punctuation, and word choice errors absolutely EVERYWHERE. It was like the book had never seen a proper proofer, or even a proofer at all (like best friend, mother, friend who was an English major, ANYONE outside of the original author). It was so distracting I found myself automatically looking for them and trying to replace them with the right one in my head.
3. There were some major gaping plot holes, and a lot of deus ex machina was happening just when things seemed at their worst. Matthew needs something to light his way? There's miraculously a lighter just laying on the floor.
4. Mae as a mother is completely unrealistic. She reminds me of someone who takes uppers because she hates her life and needs to fake her way through it. I'm not trying to be mean, but she was written as a barely-there character who showed way too much flightiness for her part.
5. The love triangle between Amber, Matthew and Daedree wasn't believable or necessary. Daedree has no interest in Matthew at first but without warning it's like a switch flipped inside her and suddenly she wants him to be her boyfriend or whatever. And Matthew and Amber barely interact before they're talking about liking each other. Matthew barely acknowledges Daedree's feelings for him and seems to have none for her, until suddenly he does. And it's very confusing and doesn't need to be part of the story. I think that, if there's going to be a romance at all, it should just be between Matthew and one person, presumably Amber, because she was there first, but I'd go for Daedree as well. If a reader sincerely doesn't care which girl the protagonist ends up with because they're both pretty similar and neither makes a difference, it's probably best to eliminate one arm of the triangle.
6. The battle scene between Hunter and Snowball - there's a big plot problem right there. I find it incredibly hard to believe that the noise inside the Grand Theatre was too loud for them to hear what was going on outside it. I also doubt they'd be so oblivious as to not feel the whole school shaking from the impact of Hunter and Snowball throwing each other all over the place. Also, if Daedree can talk to other people through their minds, why didn't she just go talk to the headmaster in the first place? She was free at one point, Hunter was paying no attention to her, why did Amber have to risk Elijah's life by making him flash them back in time instead of letting Daedree take a nappy-nap and go talk to the headmaster in the Theatre? Why didn't anyone just run into the Theatre when Hunter was fighting with Snowball? The twins weren't terribly imposing at that point, once everyone was freed from the ice. Too many convenience explanations (there were at least three points in the sequence where the author wrote a variation on "The noise inside the Theatre was too loud so no one heard the commotion outside." That wasn't a commotion, that was a freaking battle.). Lastly, if Amber and Matthew had gone to warn the headmaster before all of this happened, why wouldn't he be keeping watch for something like this? It was implied that he semi-believed them, so you would think that instead of just randomly running out of the Theatre at the end of the battle, he would have come out a lot sooner.
7. There is a lot of character confusion regarding who is present and who is speaking. I noticed a few instances of this. At one point Matthew asks Mr. Xoner if Alex can come to the dream school too, as if he wouldn't be able to anyway, and it wasn't even mentioned (that I could remember) that Alex was even in the room. And in another moment, Elijah says something in Scapemaker even though he's in the hospital in the real world. It's most likely leftovers from editing, where a character was originally there but was removed, but again, another job for a proofer.
8. Why would the three agents who had been paralyzed by fear slow down the others? They didn't seem to be injured other than emotionally, and once the shadows had pulled back from them it seems as if all of them could have escaped together. They didn't need to stay behind, and the author didn't need to imply their deaths. They could have just as easily captured Ambisha when they went back in to get Hunter after the whole shebang was over.
9. The reader would expect Matthew to have learned SOMETHING by the time he sees his "mom" being eaten by zombies. Duh, it wasn't her. I didn't need the agent to tell me that it wasn't her. He'd already told Matthew that once before, and Matthew was too thick-headed to listen. I can't stand a "hero" who acts a damn fool, without thinking, and constantly puts everyone around him in danger to achieve his own ends through his own idiocy. In this regard, Matthew is just not like-able. Oh, and Agent Rymcene blowing up the Mae look-a-like's head with a water gun was so disgusting and out of place. Nothing in the rest of the book read like that, the sudden and out-of-place gore didn't appeal to me.
10. Matthew's explanation of why Cody and Tyler were in the dream world is half-hearted at best. If they had followed him, he would have seen their car considering how long he and Daedree were outside.
11. There wasn't a single reaction from anyone when the other three agents left the house carrying Ambisha? I mean, it was made out that they were probably going to die in there, and no one even registered surprise when they came back out alive?
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