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RATING OVERVIEW ~ (Overall: ★★★ (3.33)
Writing: ★★★ Story: ★★★★ Characters: ★★★
You will judge a man of murder.
Choose-your-own-adventure makes a comeback in The Friar’s Lantern.
An eccentric scientist tells you he can read your mind and offers to prove it in a high-stakes wager. A respected college professor exacts impassioned, heat-of-the-moment revenge on his wife’s killer – a week after her death – and you’re on the jury.
Take a Turing test with a twist, discover how your future choices might influence the past, and try your luck at Three Card Monte. And while you weigh chance, superstition, destiny, intuition and logic in making your decisions, ask yourself: are you responsible for your actions at all?
So choose wisely – if you can.
MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:
Let me start by saying that I received a free copy of this book for my honest impartial review… That is what I mean to give here.
WRITING (★★★): Lets first address the fact that Hickey has chosen the very difficult task of writing a “choose your own adventure” style novel. This concept allows the reader to make decisions throughout the story which then determine the path the characters take. I grew up reading choose your own adventure stories as a kid and have loved them ever since. In fact, my current work in progress is also an interactive adventure novel. If I’m being honest, the main reason I agreed to read and review The Friar’s Lantern is because I wanted to see how he tackled the meticulous mapping of his story threads. His method, I believe, was very different from my own. This is an ambitious novel structure for any author and the fact that he successfully completed his story is impressive.
As for the quality of Hickey’s writing, although it is clear that he is extraordinarily articulate, I felt that some of his descriptives felt forced. Many of his sentences were so long that by the time I reached the end of the stringed together adjectives, I forget what it was he was originally explaining.
“…The stadium, Ozymandian on the bitumen shore, is beset to the north by woodlands, and here the hard blacktop, the steel girders and thick slabs of concrete devolve into dirt and dead yellow leaves and broken branches overhung by untrimmed trees and dotted with tangled bushes. The little laboratory remains as a mere afterthought, its wearied face shrouded by the sallow, emaciated branches of a willow tree, devoid of leaves even now in mid-May, the tree dead or dying as its limbs sag down on despair to scratch the top of the building.”
Unfortunately, because of the wordy writing style, I think I enjoyed the idea of this novel more than the actually story itself.
STORY (★★★★): The concept of the story is intriguing… How do our choices effect our outcomes and do we really have free-will? The main problem I had with this story, aside from the wordiness of the sentences, was the ending. It felt rushed… or rather pre-determined as if he wrote the book knowing the concept and the ending. With the “choose your own adventure” style, I felt that there should have been something more. I didn’t feel as if my choices were really leading the story, it was more that the story was leading my choices.
CHARACTERS (★★★): Honestly, as the reader, you are the main character. With that said, I imagine trying to include any sort of arc or character development had to be hard for the author. The character doesn’t really seem to grow or change throughout the story. However, it does provide for the wonderful opportunity, when reading the story for the second time, to make different choices based on the previous outcome.
Greg Hickey is the author of the INDIES Book of the Year-nominated novel Our Dried Voices and an award-winning screenwriter. He is also a former international professional baseball player and coach and current forensic scientist and endurance athlete. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Lindsay.
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Also by Greg Hickey
Our Dried Voices
In 2153, cancer was cured.
In 2189, AIDS.
And in 2235, the last members of the human race traveled to a distant planet to begin the next chapter of humanity.
Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence.
With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a bright young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his determined friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue humanity.