Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Moonglow by Charlie Romo

MOONGLOW on Amazon
This is a review of Moonglow by Charlie Romo, a self-published story about fashion and lesbians, set in the futuristic city of Moonglow. It is available in ebook only, so I had to read it on the computer (and suddenly I am seriously interested in buying a Kindle).

If you like reading fashion magazines and endless descriptions of beautiful people, you'll probably enjoy this book. It's fashionista wish-fullfilment, and that it does well. And - possibly reflecting all the stereotypes of fashion - most of the characters appear to be gay. It's certainly treated as normal in the limited society of the plot.

It's about Rena - a young (and gorgeous) model, and her older lover Shell (who could have been a model but manages them instead). Shell's employer is dying and wants to leave everything to her, and Rena is making eyes at a new girl, much to the frustration of that girl's best friend. Everyone is famous, everyone is perfect in some way, and when they aren't rubbing elbows with each other on the runway or parties, then they're rubbing elbows reaching for drinks or while doing drugs.

Writing style and spelling
I've spotted a few 'first novel' issues; mostly slightly awkward word usage and over-descriptiveness, which sadly continues through the whole story. I'm quite impressed, typo-wise. I found a single error in one of the opening paragraphs and gritted my teeth - but then nothing afterwards.

Description wise, it reads like someone was actually trying to write a thesaurus or a style guide. It is... excessive. We're told everything - family history, hobbies, appearances - in several additional paragraphs, every time a new person appears. Most of it is *well* described, but there is such a lot of it. That actually gets annoying - after every exchange or moment of action, we have to stop and read several paragraphs of back story or flashback.

A good editor would have improved it immensely.

Formatting & Layout
Formatting is fine, and the author has taken the time to make sure it looks nice. I read it in PDF format (which was painful enough on the eyes to make me strongly consider buying a Kindle!).

One of the main problems with the PDF was that there was a lot more text per page, making it a bit more intimidating. The online book at Smashwords is 294 pages long and reads a bit more easily, so the Amazon Kindle ebook is probably very similar, and I'd recommend trying different formats to find a style you prefer.

Main Review: Fashion, Sci Fi and Relationships
Our two main characters are constantly on either drink or pills, madly in love with each other and have everything going for them. A revolving cast of supporting characters provide banter, contrast, occasional drama and potential love interests. Because of the ease of their lives, the tension - and the story - is basically these relationships, and Rena's party life and tendency to cheat on the much older Shell. This is not a character driven story, it's more of a gossip mag about privileged people.

The science fiction part... is mostly unnecessary for the majority of the book. Fashion and rich people are another world as it is, and the fact that it's set in a futuristic raised city barely impinges on the storyline, except to limit outside influences. Booze, interests, clothing, hobbies, references and jobs are all entirely contemporary, or non-alternately historical. There are a few wish fulfillment gadgets - automatic dishwashing, mental intercom systems - but they don't really matter, and the 'up in the sky' nature of the setting means that nasty poor people live on the ground and are barely mentioned.

As far as I can tell, setting the story in the future is just an excuse not to worry about describing real places or people. It doesn't really affect the storyline, just opens up more opportunities to describe things.

Would you enjoy Moonglow?
From the brief bio of the author online, he is definitely writing to his interests (fashion, models, photography, art, and a dash of cookery). If you share these interests (with a heavy emphasis on the fashion and models, two areas that I don't really follow), then this offers something a bit different to most lesbian fiction.

However, it's the sort of story that reads best if you take it a chapter at a time - while it does speed up a little from Chapter 3, the story still moves slowly, so there's no danger of losing track of the plot or getting swept away and reading until the early hours. So if you want something that will last you a while, and you enjoy immersing yourself in fashion catalogues and fine architecture, try it. But if you like more than two lines of dialogue a page (on average), incorrect word usage annoys you, and you really, only need a rough idea of what a character looks like, and get sick of endless backstories, then you'll probably find it irritating.

Will I re-read it?
Yes. Slowly. A chapter at a time.

Buy Moonglow or find out more:

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    1 comment:

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review my work, Flynn! Your efforts are greatly appreciated. :)

      Just to clarify: setting MOONGLOW in the future is how I dreamed the entire novel. My creative process works that way. I wrote down what my soul dictated. It had nothing to do with avoiding "real people and places". For me, these people and places are very real.

      Also, thanks so much for catching that first blunder. It is corrected!

      Bless your heart, Flynn! Have a great week. :)