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Handbook for Mortals: Book One of the Series Hardcover – August 15, 2017
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''Handbook for Mortals will soon become the new paranormal craze. I found myself more emotionally involved in the story than even Twilight, which I loved. A riveting, original storyline, relatable characters, a love triangle of sorts, and just enough magick to ensnare you.
''Nestled amongst the illusions of Vegas comes a story of a small town southern girl who finds herself the object of attraction for two attractive men. Jealousy abounds, secrets are revealed, and several people's lives are forever changed… When magick becomes reality and a war starts brewing… all bets are off.
''The fortunetellers have looked into the future and the next big thing is here. Handbook for Mortals is a page turning read unlike anything you've seen before… prepare to be enticed.'' --Skye Turner, International Bestselling Author
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The characters are stiff, their dialogue and choices unnatural, their relationships completely forced. I probably don't need to tell you the plot of the book, because if you've ever read YA, this is a far lesser copy of whatever else you read (love triangle), but this love triangle doesn't make sense. A bland and personality-less Tarot-card loving girl moves to Las Vegas in search of a "normal life", immediately everyone is obsessed with her, men love her, women hate her, no reason given. Character traits all around are nonsensical or non-existent, besides pertaining to how they react to the horrendously written main character (named: "Scheherazade". Zade for short). The prose is atrocious and in need of an editor, but even looking beyond that, the story itself is just plain bad. And just when it couldn't get much worse, toss in a laughable supernatural element, and make sure that no one reacts to things the way any actual person would.
Really, really bad.
Separate from the book review, I think it's important to point out that the cover artwork is far too derivative of the work of Gill Del Mace, to the point that it seems like a direct rip-off. Look up Gill Del Mace "Knife Thrower" to decide for yourself.
For the second and more interesting point: It's been well-proven that the publisher (GeekNation) used mass orders of the book to artificially inflate its sales ranking to the top of the New York Times best seller list. It's shady, and also shows an incredible disrespect for the book's alleged target audience (teens). They thought they would get away with this, and it reassures me that they have not.
Questionable books often rise to major public attention, but this is the worst I've seen get press in years.
This reads like a fanfic, because it essentially IS a fanfic. One of the love interests, Jackson, is very obviously based on Jackson Rathbone, the actor and singer from 100 Monkeys, a band Lani just so happens to have managed years ago. Mr. Rathbone himself has commented on the author on Twitter, and he's not very appreciative. Some comments online suggest that this was born from a Wattpad fic from 2013 and was originally a self-insert romance with him.
It's amateur and sloppy. Sarem takes a Bizzaro World approach to "Show, don't tell" by doing the exact opposite, painstakingly explaining every joke and reference. Her self-insert Zade and her love interests have every detail of their outfits describe in doorstopping paragraphs, while the appearance of important areas (like a character's office) and major events like a red carpet premiere are either glossed over with a sentence or two or ignored altogether. Much of the backstory, such as where Zade gets her power and what she does, is left a mystery to the reader until Lani feels like explaining it.
The protagonist, Scheherazade Esther Holden (!!!), is a Mary Sue in the extreme. She's repeatedly described as so beautiful that people stop what they're doing to stare at her and rarely makes a mistake or judges someone incorrectly. Even her enemies end up loving her by the end of the book, as every man falls at her feet in practical worship. Her magical (sorry, "magickal") abilities are described in such a way that she has seemingly unlimited power when she feels like it.
The plot meanders back and forth, with a magical duel and hint of a larger conspiracy being forgotten almost immediately in favor of multiple chapters of romance scenes, misunderstandings, and "character development" that goes nowhere until the finale. The extensive explanations of what everyone is thinking and doing and why they're thinking and doing it heavily pads out the page count; the point of view even repeatedly shifts to third person and the majority of the last third of the book is entirely in third person without Zade even doing anything!
Copy errors abound. Sections of italicized paragraphs (used to indicate shifts to third person) are left un-italicized and words or sections of sentences are accidentally repeated. It comes off as a rapid first draft thrown together with stolen artwork for the cover. This is likely because the book simply serves as a disguised screenplay, heavily explaining every visual that seems important for the planned film adaptation (such as the exact appearance of every elaborate visual effect) while ignoring anything that Lani feels could be made up on the spot for it.
This also extends to an overabundance of real life spilling in, as if she was attempting to get every celebrity and product endorsement. The Plain White T's (a band Lani managed once) appears with namedropped songs and band members, the lead singer replaced with her Jackson Rathbone stand-in. The action almost entirely takes place in real locations like the Wynn Casino, the Fashion Show Mall, McMullan's Irish Pub, and the Peppermill restaurant. The famous magician in charge of the show Zade joins is a thinly-veiled David Copperfield stand-in, complete with an equally thinly-veiled Chloe Gosselin girlfriend. Real brands like Too Faced Makeup and Sally's Beauty Supply are mentioned ceaselessly.
This is not a professional novel. This is on the level of something a 16-year-old obsessed with Twilight would write (and it shouldn't surprise you that Lani was part of the Twilight fan community). The amount of fraud associated with the book's ignominious rise to fame only amplifies the fact that if taken on its own merits, it would have been lucky to get within sniffing distance of the New York Times list.
A good editor and a more original story line would make this book readable. Maybe.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked how Zade is protective of her own secrets.
I also liked the love triangle between Jackson, Zade and Mac.Read more