The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Fractured Time

July 18, 2011 at 11:53 pm (Reviews, writing)

Fractured Time – by Alan Draven

I love the opportunity to experience a writer I’m unfamiliar with, especially when it’s a fellow Canadian. I can also say that I liked the story concept for Fractured Time from the very beginning. Donovan Vicar is a “feeler”, a man who can sense others intentions and if someone plans on doing evil, he can tell that as well. He has a bit of a hero complex, a need to save the world because of his special talent, and he has a guilty conscience because he has failed to step in once before, resulting in others’ deaths. When he senses similar trouble, he decides to disrupt his regular life as a teacher and guardian to his sister in order to take action to try and prevent that trouble. He makes arrangements for his job and sister and hops a bus to Dallas, but when the bus instead lands him someplace and some time completely different, Vicar finds himself with new problems on his hands. He is in a bizarre predicament with no resources or allies and has been dragged into the middle of a mystery. All the while, he is concerned about the people he had had to leave at home. Further investigation leads him to discover a terrible evil at the centre of this mystery, worsening his situation. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I’ll just say be prepared to encounter the consequences of what happens when you mess with time.

There are plenty of positives about this book. Mr. Draven creates interesting characters: Vicar, “the feeler”, his autistic sister, Samantha, and his new age friend and mentor, Mason. Speaking as a mother of an autistic child, I like the description of Samantha’s needs when Vicar was explaining to Mason what he had to know with regards to her schedule and her behaviour. The people in the past, like the officers, Graves and Houston, and Campbell are well portrayed as well. I also really enjoyed Vicar’s struggles in the face of being stranded in another time – very reactive and believable.

My only real criticism is directed more at the editor than the author. For one, the story needed better copyediting; I picked up on issues like incorrect words and inappropriate capitalization in a few places. It was sporadic, so not terribly distracting, but more common than I would expect in a published book.

Also, more of a matter of personal preference, I was not a fan of the narrative writing style in places where there was little or no dialogue. I know this style is one that some editors encourage, angling for “technical correctness” over “readability”. Writing in small concise sentences avoids run on sentences but allows for little variety in sentence structure. The results are too choppy for my taste, and it hampered an otherwise comfortable reading experience. I felt those sections needed better flow and more conjunctions. Most of the sentences start with “he”, “she”, or a character name, almost as if it were written in point form.

I would have preferred more “natural” language, as well, in parts of the narrative. Things like “Mason appeared pensive” when “Mason looked thoughtful” would seem more fitting is one example. Smells caressing the hairs inside a character’s nostrils (and similar descriptions) were a little over the top for my tastes, too.

But back to the positives, another of Draven’s strengths is good dialogue, which fortunately is more prominent in the book than the narrative. It is natural sounding and expressive, and gives you an excellent feel for the various characters. It never felt forced the way the narrative did in places. It was definitely one of the highlights of Mr. Draven’s writing. I really liked the old school banter between Houston and Graves.

Lastly, and something that I deem fundamental to a good book, is nice pacing of plot. Exciting things happen very early in the book and the story makes good progress (unlike another book I’m in the process of reading which is well written stylistically and well edited, but goes for pages and pages without advancing the plot.) Fractured Time doesn’t drag at any point. I got into the story quite quickly, despite the sometimes distracting narrative, and was interested enough to want to keep reading.

All in all, I enjoyed the story. I’d give this book a solid four out of five stars and with a bit more editing I think it could have been a five.

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