Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review of Bait, by Courtney Farrell

Bait, by Courtney Farrell, is the story of sixteen-year-old Jack and her crew of boys living in an apocalyptic dystopia. A pox has spread across the United States and the world. It's taken women and girls first, then the infection spreads through animals or other humans to men as well. Jack must protect her crew from the pox and from other crews, as well as defending herself as one of the few remaining females left on earth. 

Women are a valuable commodity, and once Jack is "outed" as a female, the stakes are higher, and Jack must protect herself as well as her adopted children. The crew's ability to survive the pox rests on Jack's shoulders, but how will she keep them safe with the pox targeting her -- specifically her?

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review of the novel.

This is actually going to be a tough review to write, and I want to talk to you personally and intimately about the book instead of in my usual "stiff," way. I'd like for my readers to be able to trust my reviews, but this is tough for me, so bear with me. 

I really enjoyed Bait as a young adult dystopian novel. It is exceptionally well-edited (unusual among indy authors). In the beginning I felt that it read like a series of short stories rather than one cohesive story, but this changed as the book went on and relationships established themselves over the course of time. Jack is a strong central character, and Farrell has a clear understanding of the characters in the book.

The trouble is that there were times reading this that I wasn't sure she had a clear direction for the story. It read like a series of short stories because in the beginning, it seems as though the author wasn't sure where she was going with the book, and then once she decided, it felt a bit rushed. 

On the other hand, I loved it. It would be impossible not to like Jack and her crew, or even Dr. Stuart. Jack has a clear voice, and the concept of the pox interested me because the zombification of the infected people wasn't so overdone that this became a zombie novel instead of a dystopian novel. 

In short, it's complicated.

I do think that this book is worth reading, and I do recommend it

However, as I said in my reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Shelfari, there's one big issue I struggled with, and this is the reason I couldn't give the book five stars. The author uses certain words ("array" and "construct" in particular) in a way that is inconsistent with their dictionary definition without giving a sufficient definition of her own. This is confusing and frustrating to me as a reader. It clearly doesn't bother other readers, and it might not bother you, either, so I do recommend you give this book a try!

As always, I want to point out what parents might want to think about when considering giving this book to their teenage children. In this case, I highly recommend a pre-read of the book before giving it to teenagers. Though the main character is sixteen and surrounded by children as young as three, this is not a book I would give to my teenage stepchildren!

  • It's sexual. There are points where the sexual situations are understated (one character touching Jack's hair or her back) and there are points where it's over-stated (and I mean that the way that it sounds!). If you don't want your child reading about teen sexuality (with teens as young as fourteen), then have them skip this one.
  • It's explicit. At least one explicit sex scene between a sixteen-year-old and a younger teenager is described in detail in the novel, and this might be something you'd prefer for your child not to read. After all, you probably don't want to encourage them to engage in this sort of behavior themselves.
  • It's scary. While this might not be a problem for older teens, it could be an issue for some younger teenagers. There are points in this novel when it could be described as a "horror" story more than a science fiction story, so keep this in mind as well with younger teens. 
  • It uses odd definitions of English words. I repeat this again because I'm still not clear on what an "array" or a "construct" is in this book, or how they are used in terms of "real" English. This could confuse young readers working on vocabulary.

I'm not sure yet whether or not I'm going to be reading the next book in this series. Finish it and you might see why.

What are your thoughts on Bait? Did you have the same trouble I did with strange word use? Was it easy for you to understand how the compound was laid out? Will you be reading the next book?

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