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First Poor Review: The Hambledown Dreams

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Note: The basis of this review is limited. Although the author has forwarded me their complete manuscript, I have refrained from further reading because the book lacks a particular element in its writing. All grades are based on honest evaluations and will be supplemented by a couple of examples to prove my point.

The Hambledown Dream

By Dean Mayes

 Cold Honest Truth:

  • This book needs a better opening line.

 OVERALL RATING: C+

While I have struggled to maintain a mild tone of voice, I think there are a couple of things I would like to touch upon within the first two chapters. I know I should read more of the work, but there have been a couple of major problems I ran into while reading that prevented me from reading the book any further. As I lay out the basic problems, I hope he is willing to take the critiques seriously and not scoff them off.

The story itself seems promising in the sense that the plot line sounds terrific from the blurb that I have read. Presenting two different stories for two different people and two different worlds sounds particularly interesting, especially between an Australian and an American.

CHARACTERIZATION: C-

For a sincerely inspiring story, his book does a good job in mixing tragedies and second chances as a story. This is quite impressive. However, that does not mean I think the writings skills he has exhibited in the first two chapters are as well executed as I imagined. The characters in the beginning are way too sympathetic that the storyline was beginning to sound sappy. While I do not mind evoking mixed emotions in a story, the problem behind this method is when the writer overuses melodrama. I think there is a chance he could do better in this department.

The first and second chapters are abrupt i.e., he is telling me two different scenarios too quickly. I would like to know one group of characters at a time, what they’re backgrounds are and what they anticipate in the writing.

RHYTHM/DIALOGUE: D

Were I to read this aloud, I think half of this book would probably evoke an image quite opposite to what he intends. Nearly every paragraph in the first chapter sounds egotistical in a comical sense. From a rhythmic standpoint, sometimes I’m left wondering if I am reading the screen play of Monty Python or The Princess Bride. I know he is trying his hardest to make someone take the work seriously, but at this moment, the novel has produced a gut busting laugh. Not to mention that almost every chapter pause he inserts in the book sounds like he is trying to beat the obvious message down our throats. I would recommend that he study the style of ‘show vs. tell’ method because that will help cure this problem.

The last thing I want to mention about this book is that it lacks the essential element: dialogue. While I am trying to figure out the minds of these characters, I think there needs to be more dialogue that reveals the mind of the character than not. I honestly think there needs to be more of that than filling up the book with foul language.

 Cover Design:  A+

Unlike everything else that has been put under scrutiny, I would have to say that the cover is awesome! I think it fits quite well with the story that he is trying to convey here.

 Formatting: A+

He is among the first of many authors who have complied with the formatting standards of a published writer. Not only do you include the page numbers along with the title, the chapter heading looks excellent. I must say that I am quite pleased with everything that you have done to make the readers think your work looks great.

Overall Grade:

C

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6 Comments

  1. Dean Mayes says:

    Firstly, I want to thank you for taking the time to review my novel The Hambledown Dream and sharing your opinion of it here.

    Criticism is a valuable component of the worth or otherwise of an authors efforts and it certainly does help in crafting future stories.

    A couple of things that stood out for me in reading your review – it would appear to me, from what you have said herein, that you only managed to read the first two chapters of the story. In doing so, I think you have limited yourself in formulating an opinion of the overall story, characterization and dialogue and are thus presenting a incomplete critique of the story. Sure, there is melodrama in those opening chapters melodrama can be interpreted subjectively and, yes, the use of language is colorful. There were specific reasons for constructing a confronting opening that are borne out as the novel progresses.

    Dialogue – while being a core part of story telling – does not necessarily have to be the overriding tool in order to flesh out a character’s motivation. In the story, I used character actions as a means of exploring their motivation and often, these actions did not, to me, require dialogue. I have said in a number of interviews that I like to encourage the reader to think about the character motivations using subtle cues rather than explicitly setting things out for them. Often, some of the better story telling arises out of action and thought, rather than dialogue only. By extension, the reader should be encouraged to be an active thinker in reading the story rather than remain passive.

    Comparisons to Monty Python and The Princess Bride were quite amusing even if I didn’t totally get where you were coming from with those references.

    Overall, I think you review had a lot of promise – but it is let down by the clear implication that you only committed to (possibly) two chapters of the novel before being prevented from reading any further.

    Again, thank you for adding your thoughts to the overall body of opinion regarding The Hambledown Dream.

    • haparker321 says:

      I know I have limited myself and I really appreciate this comment. You are showing the true signs of an actual author by not contesting with everything that I said and showing appreciation. Many authors that I have given poor reviews to often do not do this quite enough and ought to.

      Personally speaking, I really think that dialogue should reveal the character because we are trying to achieve verisimilitude. When I read your book, there were many melodramatic repetitions that made me think that your book was worth laughing about. The only two things that you kept repeating was ‘How could it have come out to this?’ and ‘For this was Denny’s X’ (note that these are paraphrases). This implicated that you were trying really hard to make this an obvious statement which flies in the face of your comment on trying to achieve subtlety. I could not bear to stand reading another page with this repetition with all the things that lacked subtlety.

      The other thing I want to point out is that a lot of the language, especially the profanity made your book far too much of a difficult read. Every time I kept thinking of its use, I wanted to know if there was an actual purpose to them. To be honest, the two chapters needed a serious re-write.

      I really think you got an interesting story and it’s a terrible shame to see that your book had been sucked into the ‘slush pile.’ If you could do a re-write, slow down the pace, and add more subtlety, I think your book would be great.

      Parker

      • What I was trying to achieve in those opening passages was a kind of poetic symmetry, a lyrical ‘feel’ to the tome which I, personally, think works really nicely. I accept that it didn’t work for you, that’s totally okay. At this point, yours is the only negative analysis of this particular stylistic technique & I’d be keen to get other opinions about this.

        I understand that the profanity in the novel most likely offended your Christian sensibilities, but having studied the language of the street – both here in Australia and in Chicago – I portrayed a fairly accurate representation of how those who move through those worlds speak. So I remain fairly proud of that portion of the novel, particularly in view of how the language evolves (ie. falls away) as the novel progresses. That you missed that by not staying with the story, is a slight disappointment but one that I accept as your perogative in reviewing the novel.

        I certainly don’t see any need to do any rewrites of The Hambledown Dream. My novel has been received very well and has sold many copies all around the world. I commented once to a friend of mine ‘It may be a flawed little bastard, but it’s my flawed little bastard’.

        May your God go with you Parker.

        Thank you again.

  2. Angi Gray says:

    Having read the whole book, I feel like you are doing both the story and the author a serious disservice in making your judgement based on the first two chapters.

    I would agree with some of what you said *as it pertains to the first two chapters*; however, once the story moves fully to America and digs in, virtually everything you complain about is resolved.

    In the end, I give you a D- for publishing a review about a book that you didn’t get at least halfway through. I highly recommend you try again, and re-review it after finishing the novel. It really is worth it (if occasionally sappy!)

    • haparker321 says:

      I would agree to what you’re saying, but I am looking at a truck load of other authors for reviews. Normally, I run to them for a review, they send me a copy, and I look at the author’s works. That is how I get my name out there, and I do a fairly good job examining the book based on the first few chapters or pages. I am well aware that you may not be pleased in what I have said because you think that is a partial judgment.

      You see, I look for reasons to keep interested in the book. If the pacing sounds bad, the sentences are too long, and any other thing that slows down the pace of the reading, I’m quite sure the book is not all that great to look at.

      Parker

  3. haparker321 says:

    Thanks Dean! Keep in touch!

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