Title: Son of the Great River
Author: Elijah Meeks
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (March 12, 2009)
Paperback: 144 pages
Rating: 2.75 out of 5
What do I tell you about the book? Even after 2 days of reading it, I’m still confused. Let’s start with the plot, shall we? Or what I understood of it.
A stranger woman gives Saffu a tiny cylinder with mysterious carvings before her death. All Saffu knows about the woman is that she is somewhere from the South and that the cylinder like thing should be returned to their people because it could be something important. So leaving his love and his people behind, he sets off to an unknown land.
Samhail is another boy who leaves home to go to another city. On the way he helps a girl called Rheem escape from her families clutches. When these two boys meet in the Imperial city, the King sends them on adventures against their wishes. What follows is basically their adventure in unknown lands.
Now the main question is ‘Did I like this book’? Before I picked it up, my younger sis said she wanted to read it. As I was already reading another book so I asked her to go ahead. She left it after 20 pages. I asked her if there was any problem with the book. But all she could say was, ‘The book isn’t bad, but I don’t know, something doesn’t feel right’.
That’s exactly what I thought about Son of the Great River. Have you read a book where you are not quite able to figure out what was wrong with the book? The writing was good; the plot was good, at least for the 90% of the book. The strange lands, the witches’ story was all quite nice. But it wasn’t leading anywhere. Everything seemed unnecessary. I felt as if the story was written in parts and then put together without any order. I was so confused at times that I had to re-read, sometimes an entire page. At one point I got tired of it. Although everything did tie up neatly in the end, it somehow felt weird while reading it. And the meaning of the symbols on the Cylinder because of which everything happened was a let down.
I somehow feel like that this book would have had great potential if it was fleshed out properly.
But there are many people who liked this book. If you go to Amazon or GoodReads, you’ll see quite a few 4 or 5 start reviews. The 2.75 stars from me is for the good writing and a few scenes that were quite good, mainly the witches scene.
About this author (from Goodreads)
An academic studying environmental history and the digital humanities. My literary influences come from a wide variety of sources, some high-brow (Chekhov and Voltaire) some decidedly not (HP Lovecraft and Edger Rice Burroughs). In my first novel, Son of the Great River, I tried to give the feeling of early history without devolving into jargon or patronization. I’m currently working on two other novels, one a ponderous, Russian-style science fiction epic and the other an adventure story with a hero modeled after John Carter, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. [close] An academic studying environmental history and the digital humanities. My literary influences come from a wide variety of sources, some high-brow (Chekhov and Voltaire) some decidedly not (HP Lovecraft and Edger Rice Burroughs). In my first novel, Son of the Great River, I tried to give the feeling of early history without devolving into jargon or patronization. I’m currently working on two other novels, one a ponderous, Russian-style science fiction epic and the other an adventure story with a hero modeled after John Carter, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
So, the story matched the cover? Sorry, I don’t like it 🙂
The cover looks better in person. The thing is, the art work inside the book is amazing. I was left wondering why some of it wasn’t used on the cover.
That’s a shame. I have to admit that the plot doesn’t really appeal to me either. Time to move quickly on to the next book!
I kind of liked the plot when I read it for the first time 😦 But you’re right, I’ve already moved on 🙂
I have read books that bother me for a reason I can’t pinpoint. It can be quite frustrating too, when I’m trying to explain to others exactly what it was that didn’t sit right with me. I think you do a fine job here though in getting how you felt about the book across.
Thanks, though I’m surprised by all the 4,5 star reviews, may be I didn’t get what the book was about.
Well, I think I’ll skip this one. There are too many great books out there to waste my time on a confusing one.
I’d like to take a moment, as the author of this book, to respond to the criticism. Most especially, it’s rather worrisome when a reviewer misspells the main character’s name. It indicates a certain lack of attention to detail that may have contributed to the frustration with the plot of the novel. I’m really unsure how to handle a review that states that the writing and plot are good, and that there are good scenes, but the overall response to the story is that it is “unnecessary”. Practically every good story is unnecessary, and often consists of fool’s errands, conflict from misunderstanding and ultimately characters that have had to struggle for naught. The Odyssey, for instance, ends with an old Odysseus who has lost his treasure, his friends and the childhood of his son and for what? I do, though, appreciate the effort this reviewer has put forth and realize that not every story is appealing to every person (I, for instance, despise Jack London’s novels), and only ask that prospective readers take a look at other reviews for Son, including the recent review by Grady Harp (The #3 reviewer on Amazon) that is quite laudatory. And I’d also chastise the comment about avoiding confusing novels, though I’d like to think Son isn’t one of them, as complex stories are often better for the heart and mind than simple ones.
Sorry for getting the character name wrong. I did not have the book with me when I wrote the review and I had read it a couple of days back. My fault, I have corrected it now.
Anyway, about your comment on attention to the lack of details, that was exactly what my problem with the book was. I had to re-read many parts to get the story right. Some of the individual scenes were very good, as I said. But the problem was when I could not remember the majority of the scenes. It’s not lack of attention to detail; it was just the difficulty to connect everything.
I didn’t mean the entire book was unnecessary, I just felt, while reading it, that many of the scenes were unnecessary. That’s why I mentioned I wish everything was fleshed out so that it stayed in the readers mind.
As I said, there were many people who liked the book, it just wasn’t for me.
Thanks Mr. Meeks for stopping by.
It is good that the author dropped by to respond to the comments given. I’ve abandoned quite a few seemingly good books as well, some are even award-winning ones. The same book will always get different responses by different readers.
Sorry to hear this was a let down! I actually really like the cover art.
Well, I’m not a fan of the author using words like “chastise” when taking exception to a review….
Sorry this one didn’t live up to it’s promise. Do you think you’d try the author again on a different novel?
Well, I didn’t like it either, but I decided to let go the comment just this once. After all, we all know how it goes from there.
About trying another book by this author, I really can’t say. As I said the writing was good. I won’t buy any of his books, but I might give a try if I come across his books in a library.
You have much potential as a reviewer. You possess a strong voice and a clear opinion, both of which are important in creating an engaging, credible critical analysis. You make some interesting points about Mr. Meeks’ book. That said, what is missing for me is explicitly defined criteria, the traits that, in your opinion, make for a good YA book, that, once established, you consistently and uniformly apply in order to create a good, as in professional, review that is both fair to the author and book-reviewing practice in general (with the added benefit of further establishing your integrity as a book reviewer). As is, I find your review inconsistent. I cannot determine what criteria, if any, you base your review on, other than whim. If you could precisely articulate what “isn’t quite right” about the book (vocabulary, setting, plot, character, dialogue, etc.) then your review would be more persuasive. It’s one thing to have an opinion, quite another to write a review that will be taken seriously.
In the name of total disclosure, I have to say I have read Mr. Meeks’ book and think it spectacular, but that’s not the point. The point is I think you have talent in this area. There is much promise here, but you have not articulated what, exactly, is wrong with this book.
My name is Nicole Mauro. You can type my name into galatearesurrects and/or Jacket and/or goodreads to read my many book reviews.
Thanks for letting me post, Violet. It’s people like you who keep the self-published books going.
Nicole: I don’t believe there is a particular criteria that could be defined for reviewing YA books or any genre books for that matter. Every book is different even if it is from the same genre.
I believe I have been very fair to the author. If I had wanted to, I could have simply said I did not like the book without getting into any details at all. I could have trashed and I could have been snarky. But I have, in fact pointed out that Amazon and GoodReads have good reviews for this book. Readers are not going to take “just” my word for any book, especially if I tell them that there have been good reviews around.
As I have already mentioned in my review, this is one of the books where you cannot exactly point out what was wrong. But If you want I could filter out all my chatter in the review and give you some precise points
1) 90% of the scenes are not fleshed out properly enough to stay in the readers mind
2) The Plot, as a whole, when you read it as a summary, was good.
3) The execution, not so good.
5) It was not engaging enough.
I had lent it to another of my friends who likes just about very book he reads. But he did not finish this one. I didn’t want to mention this but looks like I have to.
Thats all I’m going to be discussing about this book. Lets come to the agreement that not all people are going to like the same books.
P.S: I have no personal gain or intention in NOT liking this book, so you doubting my integrity as a reviewer is a little out of place here.