Before I headed to Europe, I stocked my Kindle with a number of books. At least ten. Over the course of those 12 days, I read four of them. A biography of Freddie Mercury that was somewhat repetitive but still interesting. A collection of the stories of Syrians who have lived in and survived the tragedy in that country that was interesting but the stories were relayed in a way that I think reduced their impact.. Big Little Lies — a book that comes close to receiving the award of Worst Book Ever. And another novel, the name of which escapes me. Probably because it is what I read during the two feverish days I spent in the Prague hotel room.
Since I got back, I’ve been making my way through the rest of the books I downloaded. The last couple weeks have been spent reading what is officially The Worst Book Ever. It’s technically not just one book, but a trilogy. But before I get to that.
I’m a self-published author, or indie author depending on how you want to look at it. I’ve published two novels, two short story collections, and a long short story. I’ve made mistakes in the doing, but I’ve tried to correct those mistakes when I have the chance. And each published work gets more attention and more editing than the last. Every book I’ve published has had typos in the initial versions. No matter how many beta readers and others I have read the manuscript, it happens. But I’ve done everything I can to fix the typos when they’re brought to my attention and I think the content of my published works is pretty clean.
I also have not yet published something where I can claim I had a true editor work with me on the manuscript. If I ever finish Northville Five & Dime that will change. As a result, however, I’m sure there are things I missed that could have made for tighter, better storytelling.
These are things that self-published authors should be worried about, but it seems that far too many are more worried about getting their work published than whether they have put forward the best product. The book I’m about to tell you about was published by an indie author in its individual parts in 2014, the trilogy collection in 2015. So, the author has had 4-5 years to correct the typos, missing words, and extra words that fill the thing. That he hasn’t done so suggests he doesn’t respect his readers or his product.
The book is … The Deadlock Trilogy by P.T. Hylton. I’ve written a teaser or two over the last few days about some of the glaring problems with this book. There are more.
At one point, one of the main characters, the one who killed a man at the age of eleven was marveling that he would finally meet the mysterious woman who had employed him for eight years, ever since he committed that murder. The only problem is that he had met the woman before — after he committed the murder and she offered to hire him in the murdered man’s place.
Shortly after that, that mysterious woman is talking to a young girl about the girl’s power — she can Pull Back time. Basically hit rewind, go back to a previous time, and make sure that something bad that she has seen happen doesn’t actually happen. When the woman and the girl are talking, they are in a place where time is frozen. Hence, the girl can’t push rewind if time is frozen. The only problem is that mere pages later, during the same scene, the woman tells the girl how her power will help the woman with a problem she is trying to solve — in the place where time is frozen and she has told the girl she can’t use her power.
The much larger problem with the story is that it gets to the point of being just completely ridiculous. Books with power, objects with power, people who can stop time, move people and objects between places and times. At one point, one of the four super evil characters is turned into a tree. This is supposed to essentially take him out of action permanently. Then, in another time window, the same evil character is turned into a tree. Again. Yet, oddly, he is present at the grand finale of good versus evil. So, I guess that tree thing wasn’t real?
It’s the problem with The Deadlock Trilogy, so many layers and possibilities and powers. The good guys and girls just keep finding things and moving through time and magically figuring things out. It’s easy to do when a universe is created where anything is possible.
The author describes himself as an author of speculative fiction. This book is certainly that, but even the worlds created in speculative fiction need to have some rules, some parameters. This one doesn’t have that.
You might be wondering why I stuck it out for this 814-page monstrosity. Regulation 19, the first book in the trilogy, wasn’t bad. But the weight of the world created, the complexity of what the author was trying to accomplish clearly was too much for him. (It’s one of the reasons I haven’t worked through the completion of Northville Five & Dime. It started as one 30,000 word novella and then I decided to turn it into a series of three 30,000 word novellas. Halfway through the second of the set, I got bogged down.)
But that first third of the tale was good enough to keep me reading and by the time I looked up and realized this was the worst book ever, I was close enough that I needed to just plow through it and see if the ending would save it. It didn’t.
A few other comments.
First, I wish I could remember how I heard about this book. I have this vague recollection of seeing it pop up on Amazon off and on over the weeks before I bought it. I finally pulled the trigger before I left for Europe. Looking at the book on Amazon now, I have a better idea of how that happened. The books by this author come up as “Sponsored” which suggests to me he is paying for placement on Amazon to attract readers.
Second, it’s working. The trilogy is ranked about 4,200 on the Kindle Store. This, four years after it was published. I wonder how much those ads cost.
Third, out of 72 reviews, the trilogy has only one one-star rating and one two-star rating. How does this happen? Is it possible for an author to figure out how to get negative reviews deleted?
Fourth, in the acknowledgements, the author thanks his editor, a mysterious Kirsten D. I hope he didn’t pay for her work on this.
So, there you have it. The Worst Book Ever. It tops even the book I read about five years ago where I read the entire thing until about the last ten pages and then I stopped because I simply didn’t care how it ended.
Finally, I don’t like to call out indie authors. I really don’t. We are all struggling to find a place in the publishing world, an audience that reads our works. I applaud authors who make these efforts. But I also believe that authors who don’t edit their books, don’t take reasonable steps to ensure they put forward the best possible product, end up poisoning the pool for the rest of us. So, Mr. Hylton, if you read this, maybe instead of publishing the four books in 2019 that you are planning on, maybe you should publish one really, really good one.
Two or three of the books on my Kindle that remain unread are by other self-published authors. But I’ve read them before and I have a lot more faith in their desire to put a good product forward.