Top critical review
3 stars: Elizabeth's Hero by Gina Marie Coon
on June 21, 2016
When Julie and Todd die in a plane crash, her best friend Elizabeth and his brother Jack both want to take care of their 2 children, and decide the best way to do so is to marry.
(Though reviews are inherently subjective, I prefer to provide some organization to my opinions through the use of a personal rubric. The following notes may contain spoilers.)
Plot and Setting: 3.5 -- Plot mixes cliche/overly convenient with unique/interesting. Plot points in sub-plots are dropped or not resolved. Setting is clear and believable, with only minor inconsistencies. The whole thing with the fires, shooting cattle, poisoning the dog, etc, was never really explained. I don't see why those things were necessary at all, let alone why they started before the plane crash. Too much time spent on their relationship as a married couple, not enough on them as parents of grieving kids. I don't buy that the kids were so miraculously fine once they hit Montana.Timeline may be a bit hard to follow. I was sure the whole thing had to take much longer, until suddenly it was Thanksgiving, making the whole thing less than 2 months.
Characters: 3 -- Most main characters are relatable and dynamic. Minor characters and villains are almost exclusively stereotyped or simplified. Not a lot of character depth. Elizabeth and Jack have clearly different personalities early on, but once they fall in love, their personalities kind of melt away. And I don't feel like I really got to know any of the characters.
Writing and Mechanics: 3 -- A handful of typos, punctuation issues, or word errors, but nothing that seriously hinders understanding. Misuse of "snuggly" multiple times when it should be "snugly," among others. Head-hopping or similar POV issues. Largely confined to Elizabeth and Jack, with occasional bits from their friends thrown in. But even between the 2 main ones, plenty of jumping back and forth within scenes. Average writing, with strong parts and parts that seriously struggle. The mysterious-bad-guy bits were actually a decent technique. Some quality sections, especially near the beginning, but it lost some of its focus and depth toward the end.
Redeeming Value: 3 -- Incidental uplifting themes. Their determination to provide for the kids is admirable, though they do get a bit distracted by each other. Kinda sorta shows Jack coming back to God. They attend church together at least once, pray sometimes, and that's about it. Sex, alcohol, drugs, violence, etc, are part of the story in morally ambiguous ways and sometimes unnecessarily graphic detail. Sexual attraction overemphasized. Frequent (minor) alcohol consumption, violent confrontation between good guys and bad guys, attempted rape that straddles the edge of explicit, and way more emphasis on their physical relationship than anything else.
Personal Enjoyment: 2.5 -- Not a huge fan. It was entertaining. I wouldn’t mind re-reading it someday, but it’s not a priority.