The world of e-publishing is new and still somewhat wild. There is limited regulation; anyone who can write a book can have it uploaded under one of the free e-pub services. The gatekeepers of the traditional publishing world—agents and editors—hold no sway here.
That’s both good and bad, and this book is a perfect example of why.
GRAY is a somewhat engaging story by an author who shows promise as an author. The main character and narrator, Margaret, is a likable nineteen-year old who works for her father in the family jewelry business. She has a secret identity, too: apparently Margaret is a jewelry-designing prodigy, and she creates pieces under the name of Lenora.
Margaret—who is alternately referred to as Maggie or MC—is left alone to mind the family store while her parents go on an extended cruise. Feeling alone, Maggie comes across an article in the paper about a comatose John Doe at a local hospital.
What happens next was oddly reminiscent of the movie While You Were Sleeping, minus the cute brother and the wacky family. Maggie gets pulled into John Doe’s recovery, unintentionally misleading hospital staff and John Doe (aka Peter) himself.
Meanwhile, she is surrounded by an odd cast of characters that includes her nephew (whom she refers to as her cousin—a little confusing) and his friends, as well as a friend from high school who is now at college. Their roles seem to be to accentuate the oddness of Maggie’s relationship with John Doe.
The resolution of the story is little drawn out, yet at the same time, nothing is truly settled. The end is unsatisfying.
The title refers to both the wolves which, as it turns out, Peter (who used to be John Doe) studies and to the state of Maggie’s life in transition. Unfortunately, almost all of the information about the wolves is dumped into a chapter near the end of the book. It’s not woven into the story, and thus it tends to come across as rather academic.
And this is the trouble with some e-published books as things now stand. This book has potential. The storytelling is not bad, but it is a little unorganized and unpolished. The author has a tendency to use words whose meaning she doesn’t quite understand; they are almost right, but not quite. The dialogue is a little stilted in places, and some of her descriptors are corny. (At one point, the narrator describes herself as having smiled “maturely”. I’ve had a lot of fun trying to imagine what that looks like.)
A good editor could work with this book and really make it shine. Some material would be cut; some would be re-worked. It would be streamlined and polished, and at that point, I think this author would really have something to offer her readers. In the closing notes, the author does acknowledge an editor. I hope she didn’t pay too much for her services.
Karns shows a good deal of potential, and I hope she continues to write and refine her craft. She could easily move from being a cautionary example to a positive one in the world of e-publishing.
Tawdra Kandle has completed 3 young adult novels and is currently working on her forth. She is a contributor for Taking Time for Mommy – Online Magazine for Moms sharing her homeschooling adventures and couponing tips. She is also an administrator of the Time 4 Mommy Community and heads up our .
You can find Tawdra on Twitter and follow her blog Publishing Quest.