Book Review – ‘No Vain Loss’ (#3 No Ordinary Star) by M.C. Frank

All I can say is… blerg!

No Vain Loss Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 229

From Goodreads:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do. 

A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty. 

This is the One World. 

The year is 2524. 

This is by no means a standalone novel in a trilogy – more like the third act of a whole. Why M.C. Frank released these novellas in this format has me dumbfounded. The novel jumps right into the action and there is little back story or summary of what has come before. Again, like its predecessors, I found it extremely difficult to connect to any of the characters or fully understand their motivations.

One gleaming positive about ‘No Vain Loss’ is the plot. It was the most interesting of the trilogy so far. There are hardships, twists and turns, and definitely the most intricate so far. So viewing the novella from a mechanical standpoint, it was pretty good. But as for the rest, I found it miserably deficient.

There was not enough character development for me to identify with any of the cast, or cheer for their journey. The descriptions are bland and bleak. The world building (though confusing at times) is much more colourful. I wanted that same care taken to the characters as well. This, added with short chapters and alternating perspectives, also contributed to the distancing from the narrative. I never really had enough time to grow with either protagonist. And then calling each other ‘Tin Soldier’ and ‘Match girl’ might have been cute, but it was used so repetitively it lost the romance and became annoying. Slapping a throwback signifier also distanced me from either protagonist. It all felt a little forced and disingenuous.

No Vain Loss Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThis has got to be the worst series I’ve ever read. I had to force myself to complete each and every one of these novellas. And that’s not a great compliment because they are meant to be short, paced reads. I kept putting them down due to boredom and lack of interest.

I don’t even want to re-gift these to anyone, I prefer to toss them in the bin. The art work looks like it’s been done by a primary schooler on PhotoShop – couldn’t there have been some original images used that relate to the story and its symbolism instead of low resolution clip art?

Yes the concept of this trilogy, and the plot outline is fantastic, but its execution is the worst I’ve come across to date.

Definitely don’t recommend this one. (Or the series.)

 Overall feeling: Worst. Book. Series. Ever.

No Vain Loss Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

No Vain Loss Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘No Plain Rebel’ (#2 No Ordinary Star) by M.C. Frank

Great concept, poor planning for publishing.

No Plain Rebel Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 212

From Goodreads:

Felix finds out the truth. 

Or so he thinks. He’s trying to come to terms with that, as well as with the fact that the Clockmaster’s shack has been discovered by his fellow-soldiers, but he can’t exactly concentrate. The match girl’s fiery curls appear before his eyes every ten seconds, distracting him, and then he starts talking to her in his head. 

Because she’s no longer there. 

The Stadium is looming in the distance. 

It’s ten heartbeats to midnight. 

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I was really hoping the story would go somewhere after a ‘meh’ feeling from reading ‘No Ordinary Star.’ There is no doubt that M.C. Frank has a talent for writing, but why she released this trilogy in tiny instalments that aren’t resolved sections is beyond me. It tainted the whole experience.

Jumping around with perspectives of Felix and Astra, in different parts of the timeline, made it difficult to connect with the characters. I loved the descriptions of first time experiences. The alien-ness of customs and objects we use today through the eyes of someone in a dystopian future. It was sheer brilliance. But again, as with the first novel it was too brief, felt out of context, and was difficult at times to figure out where this is all going.

All of this aura of confusion and disjointedness overrides the beautiful writing. And with the addition of a number of grammatical errors, I was left yet again with a bitter taste in my mouth.

No Plain Rebel Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpg

I can see from Franks writing the potential, and why many readers love this series; but for me, it’s not polished enough, not planned out enough for each instalment to stand on their own and make sense. I kept putting down this short novella and spread it out over a couple of days, when it is something that I could read in hours because I was frustrated and disinterested.

I really hope things start to make sense in the final book of the trilogy ‘No Vain Loss.’

Concept is intriguing, writing style is fantastic, pacing is a bit sporadic, but overall the story was not engaging for me. I did not connect with the characters and kept getting lost in time jumps and flash backs.

Though I will preserve and read the final instalment and hopefully it will redeem my opinion.

Overall feeling: Disappointing… again.

No Plain Rebel Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.gif

No Plain Rebel Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘No Ordinary Star’ by M.C. Frank

Did not shine brightly for me.

No Ordinary Star Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 150

From Goodreads:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do. 

A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive. 

A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack. 

The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
The year is 2525. 

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‘No Ordinary Star’ hit me hard from the get-go. With little world building and jumping straight into the action; I was clamouring to makes sense of what the book is about. The writing style feels clunky and I haven’t quite worked out what the subtext of the narrative is yet. Unfortunately this confusion stayed with me right to the end.

It’s hard to give this a good review because the story didn’t go anywhere and left everything hanging. Not even a cliff hanger as such. It felt like someone left half way through the conversation. Upon further research, I discovered that it’s one book released in three parts. I’m uncertain if this is meant to be a marketing ploy, or a way to get around contractual obligations to a publishing company (similar to Colleen Hoover and the Never Never trilogy.) But I wasn’t left with a feeling of completion once reaching the end.

So with the clambering to work out what was going on in the world of the novel, the cumbersome writing style, which is beautiful and intelligent, but does not match the genre or tone of the plot, and then concluding with-

It literally felt like it stopped mid-sentence.

I did like how the main characters, Felix and Astra are experiencing so many things for the first time. Things of nostalgia set in our present. Their reactions are delicious. But it only added to the dysphoria I had. It needed more context. Another aspect I found cool was the polar bear – he had more personality than the main characters. Even if he felt like a guest star – there one moment, gone the next without explanation.

Yeah, I can’t give this a nod of approval at all. My opinion may change drastically after the next instalment ‘No Plain Rebel’ but if I go to the point of buying a book, I want to slip easily into its fantasy world, relate to the main characters, understand what is going on, and feel like I get some pay-off, some resolution of an issue faced at the beginning of the story. I don’t feel like I got any of that with ‘No Ordinary Star.’

It was too metaphysical for my tastes, painting a landscape that took until the end of the novel for me to grasp, and so many underlying philosophical musings to enjoy how ‘a boy rescues girl and then…’ storyline. Additional to my issues with the way it has been published, characters and story. I found a number of grammatical errors that could have been picked up from a basic proof read which also added to my disappointment.

With a concept that is highly intriguing, I will give this trilogy one more chance to hook me in. Fingers crossed M.C. Frank can serve me some humble pie!

Overall feeling: one big poop emoji

No Ordinary Star Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

No Ordinary Star Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.