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Customer Review

164 of 179 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hybrid Survival Guide/Novel, March 27, 2012
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This review is from: A Distant Eden (Kindle Edition)
The basics: The technological, civilized, industrial world comes to an end with a giant Carrington event (solar storm). The author looks at the efforts of a small group of people, led by a man who planned carefully, to survive.

If I were rating this as a $9.99 novel, it would deserve one, at most two stars. However, the author is very upfront about his intentions: he wants this to be not simply a novel, but at least as much a guide that will both provide information on concepts he develops in detail, and inspire people to search out more information on concepts he sketches over lightly.

As a result (and to give him credit, he acknowledges this), he falls woefully short on sketching realistic characters, to say nothing of showing character development. For a presumably self-published work, basics like spelling, grammar and word choice are generally quite sound with only a few errors/quirks. His female characters are particularly lightly sketched, though no worse than some fairly big-name authors like Harold Coyle.

The author's style can most kindly be described as workmanlike. That implies a bit of stodginess, but it also implies competence. He develops the story in parallel threads, each reaching a climax of suspense/violence at the same time. A trifle cliche, but in his hands he makes it work reasonably well as a technique. The quality of his dialog tends to range from adequate to penny dreadful, with most of it being adequate. As noted above, there really is no character development, something the author readily acknowledges.

The temporal flow of the story feels somewhat forced: the author is clearly trying to pack in information and forcefully present some fairly abrupt (but rational) shifts in morality.

Not surprisingly, he is at his strongest when conveying information (and opinions) relating to survival after a catastrophe. I also rather liked his dry, but competent exposition of the potential for social redevelopment and [re]construction of a trading society from the ashes.

Given his intent, I give him three stars, and a bonus star, partly for effort, partly for the harsh but rational way he presents moral choices, and partly for a surprisingly good execution overall.

If you're looking for a good disaster novel, this isn't it. If you're looking for a post-apocalypse novel with zombies, this really, really, really isn't it. But if you're looking for something that's a decent read and is filled with fairly good research (and many more starting points for your own research) on survival, then this could be it.

Overall, I commend the author. This was clearly a labour of love, and his effort shows. At $0.99, I'd definitely enjoy seeing more from the author, provided he works at polishing his craft.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 29, 2012 7:26:09 PM PDT
Now *THAT'S* a review. Thank you! Not only did you come down realistically on the strengths and weaknesses of the novel, story, and writer, but you did it in a way that was positive, encouraging, and helpful to both the prospective customer and the author himself. Bravo!

And for the record, your honest review made me happy to drop my .99 on his book. I know what I'm getting, and I look forward to reading it.

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 5:44:55 AM PDT
A. Taylor says:
Wow, that was a great review. I am a teacher and I strive to make my feedback on papers I grade that clear but usually fall short. Have you thought of self publishing something? ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2012 5:18:12 PM PDT
Holmwood says:
That is very kind of you both (J. Young, and A. Taylor). I hope you enjoyed it, J. Young, and that my review didn't mislead you.

My goal in reviewing it was to try to write something both critical and constructive that both the author and a reader could find useful.

A. Taylor, yes, I've written a bit; I've thought about self-publishing. I am quite ambivalent at the moment as I don't think my writing is yet up to snuff. I've spent too many years writing to professional [engineering] standards, and that can actually damage one's writing style quite a bit. I'm working hard on continuing to 'unlearn' those habits. Also, I'm looking for a good editor that can appreciate the good points of my style, yet still be quite critical where I fall woefully short.

Thanks again for the kind comments.

Posted on Apr 24, 2012 9:18:29 AM PDT
Raff says:
Thank you for the terrific review: you were thoughtful and thorough.

Can we ask Amazon to post your review as a guide for "how to write helpful reviews"?

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 10:57:41 PM PDT
Holmwood says:
@Raff Thank you.

I have no objections to you asking Amazon to do that, but I'm ambivalent about whether or not a) they would do so, and b) it would be genuinely of any help. But thanks.

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 9:21:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 9:21:51 PM PDT
I enjoyed this book, I think it was a steal at the price. I would not hesitate to recommend it to all my prepper friends and will definately be looking for the next in what I hope is long line of work from this new author!!!!

Posted on Aug 30, 2012 6:24:55 PM PDT
Jerrygills says:
I read the first Tackitt book, A Distant Eden and then the second, Adrian's War. I liked both books and the author definitely improved his craft with Adrian's War. All I can add is how disappointed I was to NOT TO FIND a third ONE. I want more!!!

Posted on Nov 1, 2012 5:30:28 AM PDT
TinkerBob says:
Your review was a breath of fresh air. Too many times, the reviews I read are complete spoilers for the book. Kudos for a great review. Amazon could do a much better job of educating would-be reviewers on the difference between a book report and a review.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2013 6:55:45 PM PST
Bloom, I agree re: Amazon "edumacating" would-be reviewers....I haven't bought the book yet, but since it's being offered for free, I will get it. And, because the main focus is on, how-to-in-case-of, moreso than storyline, this will be no problem keeping my attention. I'm not into the Doomsday Preppers on the telly, as I can do without all the drama.

As for Holmwood's review, this did indeed sway my decision for downloading the book despite it being a quick read. It'll probably end up on my "Favorites" section of my Kindle Fire. Cheers!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2014 10:33:44 PM PST
Over the years I have gone from responding to reviews, to not responding to them at all. I've learned the hard way that anyone who reads my work is entirely entitled to their own unique opinion. Some of those opinions hurt, and yet I do learn something from each of them. Getting criticism is tough, taking it is tougher, and not letting it dismay is tougher yet, but it all adds up to better writing in the end. So I press on, and write, and many are the good reviews. I take those as they come, at face value, and enjoy them.

This review has stood the test of time. It is a fair review, an honest review, and still holds many lessons for me. I agree with this review, and recommend it as being to the point, and it also goes under the surface. It is accurate in its perceptions. I have written four more books in this series, and if reviews count, then my craft has improved. I am definitely on a learning curve, and enjoying every minute of the experience.

My original goal was to impart survival knowledge, both specific techniques, but more importantly describe the state of mind that is required to survive. State of mind is far more important than technique. State of mind will either get you killed, or see you through the darkest of nights.

But then the series morphed.

It remained about state of mind, but it also became about an evolving situation, and an evolving state of mind to match the needs and circumstance as society began to slowly re-emerge from the ashes, and about the need for leaders to step up to the plate. We do need leaders, we always have and we probably always will.

But to get back to the point, this review was spot on. I only wish this reviewer would read and comment on the following books as well. I think I have grown as a writer, I hope I have, and this particular reviewer could provide me with excellent feed-back as is done here.

Holmwood, I am reaching out and asking for your input on my other books.

I value your opinion.
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