Review: Patrick Patterson and the World of Others by James Fryar

Guest Reviewed by SCD Goff
SCD specialises in reviewing self-published books, in fact she thrives on it, preferring it to more traditionally published novels. Her reviews are thorough, with good tips for debut authors on what worked well and what didn't, and overall I can guarantee your novels are in good hands.
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Patrick Patterson and the World of Others by James Fryar
Publishers: Self-published
Published Date: Oct 3rd 2011
From: Author
My rating:
3.5 out of 5

For almost thirteen years, Patrick has lived a quiet, simple life in the boring town at the Texas border called Farwell...with big dreams and small hopes of fulfilling them. He’s bullied by the biggest kid in school, constantly singled out in class by the scariest teacher, and has a crush on the prettiest girl, named Cameron. It all seems to be too much for him to handle, when suddenly, he is whisked away by a rag tag group of warriors and others on a quest across the United States to discover his true identity and a destiny clouded in mystery.

Never in his wildest dreams did he think that he'd walk through an underground city filled with citizens from across the universe, contend with powerful enemies from the edge of the galaxy, or travel to the Arctic Circle on a high speed train.

Now, he must decide what he truly desires and whether he even wants to take up the mantle of hero...or alien.
An ordinary 12-year-old boy in America has weird neighbours, a bully of a coach, and a giant crush on the girl next door. That is, of course, until he finds out who he really is – and what he is destined to do.

So far, ho hum, but the author offers a new take on the ‘I’m a –what??’ story. He interacts very directly with the reader with a distinct narrative voice which is fresh and energetic. A good sense of humour helps the story zip along, and the story itself is pacey and well-structured. The author sets scenes well, has some imaginative flair and the narrative is kept fairly lean, with nothing there but the essentials.

And now for the ugly bits.

First, the writing is not always clear, and this rankles with the reader from early on in the novel: ‘In Farwell, the tiny town on the edge of Texas where our story starts, nothing ever was really a secret anyway. You see, in a city (if you could call it that) of just a few thousand, not much happened, and what did happen was common news the very next day in which a thing of importance did happen.’ I’m not sure what that means.

The author uses some terrible English – for example, ‘would it be possible if I make my speech tomorrow?’ There’s also some very weird phrasing where the author uses words he hasn’t quite got the hang of: ‘I dare say you have had an entire semester to gather all your thoughts into one report …’

It’s hard to know whether to put these glitches down to poor writing or poor editing, so let’s give the benefit of the doubt.

But besides this, there are other, larger problems, such as a lack of development in the secondary characters, and some difficulties with writing action scenes.  And to be honest, I have a few pet peeves, such as - why do boys get to laugh and chuckle when girls only ever seem to giggle?

Altogether, the author shows some real promise. The story can be unexpectedly touching (for example, our hero’s teacher insists that he consider a more sensible career than ‘astronaut’, something most young adults will probably relate to), and there’s good use of simile and fun, very light references to pop culture phenomena such as Star Wars. Finally, a good, gorey finish with a light-touch last chapter will keep you reading happily enough til the end.

A very solid 3.5/5, and good value for your buck.
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