Book Review – ‘Ida’ by Alison Evans

‘Sliding Doors’ meets Blake Crouch’s ‘Dark Matter’ buy YA with diverse characters.

Ida Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction, LGBT

No. of pages: 246

From Goodreads:

How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?

Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.

One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.

How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?

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The main plotline of ‘Ida’ is extraordinary. I love a good multiverse theory in my science fiction. The biggest drawback, however was the narrative. There are many characters/situations introduced that are not resolved: either in a way that they are meant to be left open, or something to give the story more gravitas. It left me feeling unsatisfied upon completion of the novel.

But what ‘Ida‘ has going for it, apart from its concept, is the diversity of characters and the depiction of the multiple universes – how one small decision can dramatically (or minutely) change your life. It is a great theme, but is never really explored to the fullest extent. I feel like the narrative was a stream of consciousness playing with the concept of the multiverse, but ignored the science and the implications. I really needed something to ground it in the narrative. The constant jumping around into different states did not help either. I was disorientating… which would have been fine if it served a purpose for the story, but ultimately, went nowhere like many of the plot points.

What ‘Ida‘ does is open the mind up to a great many possibilities. Starts a conversation for this universe. Almost like it is the pilot episode of a television series, or the start of anthology. Other versions of yourself with their own motivations, gaining the ability to switch between realities, working against you. Finding a near perfect version of your life. The promise of becoming an agent for a mysterious organisation policing those with the ability to travel time and space… all the seeds are planted, but many fail to get explored other than a cursory mention.

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The crux of ‘Ida‘ is about her journey to fill the missing void in her life by switching realities, instead of becoming the change she wants to see. That is itself, pretty poetic, but is lost amongst a jumbled narrative. It’s such a shame for a novel with such strong themes, fantastic science fiction concepts, and wonderfully diverse characters (though they need to be explored and developed more) that I didn’t get my wish fulfilment. However, this is Alison Evans first published novel, and given the potential and strength of her ideas, I can imagine amazing stories yet to come with experience.

I absolutely adored that this was set in Melbourne, Australia. A place I like to call home. There really isn’t enough Aussie representation in mainstream YA fiction on the international stage, and I can see Evans becoming a breakout author real soon.

I have already purchased another standalone ‘Highway Bodies‘ – a zombie tale, so we’ll see how that story impact me in a future review soon.

All in all, ‘Ida’ was not a bad debut, but there are so many more novels out there that have executed this concept much better. I’d recommend it for the character study, not as a science fiction novel.

Overall feeling: whaa-whaa

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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.

What I read in 2017

I can’t believe January is already over… so much for posting my 2017 reads early *awkward*

Last year proved to be a year of distractions and interruptions, and consequently I fell short of my goal of reading 100 novels by 18 books. And I overall I read more books that I ended up rating lower because I was extending my reading habits out of my preferred genres and giving many new authors a go.

So, what did I read…

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And I’d have to say that my favourite book read from 2017 is ‘Gemina’ by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman which was the second novel completed that year.

I’m hoping that I can read more novels, and even more diversely this year… and maybe I’ll even give at least one book a 5 star rating (as in 2017, sadly, I did not award one.)

 

How did your reading year shape up? What was your favourite book from last year? Let me know in the comments below – I might just find my next outstanding read 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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.

Constructing the Perfect Pitch

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There are some basics elements you should aim to include in your book pitch, regardless whether you’re marketing your editor, publisher, the public, or a friend.

Selling your story is a vital part of any writer – that is if you want to start making a living from your vocation. And while it may feel like your hacking out a small piece of your soul in trying to water down your book baby to a paragraph, it is an essential skill.

And just like writing – practice makes perfect.

Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle Especially in your genre. Look at what is successful, what grabs your attention. Also know your target market. If you are pitching to publishers or professionals, there is usually a criteria that they are looking for.

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle Most of the time there is a detailed list for criteria of submissions, when they are accepting submissions, and who to address the work to. Don’t get off on the wrong foot looking unprofessional without discovering the basics in their submission process. Some publishing houses won’t accept submissions from an author, and you’ll need to find a literary agent. Just about every professional in this field will not accept unedited work. Give yourself the best chance at success and get your work professionally edited. Have multiple versions of your submission – and get feedback on those to hone out which is the best example of your work, your brand, and your professional standards.

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 09 by Casey Carlisle Know your niche, genre and target market. Compare your work to already successful publications. ‘My novel is a mash-up of Twilight meets Pride and Prejudice aimed at the 20-35y/o market who love paranormal romance.’ For example. Be precise. No-one wants to hear that it fills nearly every genre and everyone from the ages of 10 to 80 would love to read it : that is a marketing nightmare and impossible to sell.

Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 10 by Casey Carlisle – a story idea is the concept of your novel. The bones of the character and his/her journey. Your topic will be the subtext and the lessons your main character have learned over the duration of the story. What is the unique, curiosity-sparkling take that is going to reel your reader in?

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 11 by Casey Carlisle Editors and Publishers are busy folk, so you want your pitch to be organised, logical, polished to perfection and highlighting all the right points in a paragraph or two. Mention exciting key aspects of your story. And above all – proofread it up the wazoo!

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Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 12 by Casey Carlisle Get as much constructive criticism as you can to perfect your submission.

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And lastly – Creating the Perfect Pitch Pic 13 by Casey Carlisle I know it’s easier said than done. Rejection can kill the creative spirit and any confidence that you have. But things move very slowly in the publishing industry. Be patient. Be professional. Be tenacious.

And good luck 😉

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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.

Restricted to bed – doctors orders.

Reading, writing and blogging slumps means no fun for this girl. I hate getting sick.

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I’m not beating myself up in taking an occasional break to routine. Recharge my batteries. Having a mini adventure.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. Indulging in a family visit and having marathon Canasta games over a glass of champagne. Exploring local markets and shopping up a storm. Late night chats over a hot cuppa. It may sound a little boring and simple, but living on top of a mountain in isolation writing means human contact of any kind is like a packed underground dance party. It really does leave you happily satiated and ready to hit the keyboard again.

Except immediately after I got food poisoning, and then fell ill with the flu that has been sweeping across the Sunshine Coast. So what was meant to me a 5-day reprieve, turned into just over a month, most of it spent moaning and wondering ‘why me?’ I agonised for three days hugging porcelain, praying for my stomach to stop spasming. My little puppy was quite alarmed at my retching noises, and my constant nursemaid.

I have to admit, I have not gotten ill in quite a long time. Not since I have gotten over the aftermath of cancer and acclimating to fulltime work and the stresses it took out on a recovering body. In the last four years I may of had one day here or there feeling poorly, maybe with a headache or hayfever. Nothing a day of rest or a Panadol didn’t fix. But a bout of food poisoning and the flu brought back all the worst sense-memories of cancer treatment.

Mainly the nausea and unending praying while in embrace of the toilet bowl. Feeling weak and shaky, overtaken in a hot and cold sweats. Not the funniest way to spend three days… I couldn’t even indulge in reading quietly in bed. Light sensitivity had the lamps off and blinds down. I would’ve love to watch a movie, read a blog or even catch up on my email… but no, I lay there wafting in and out of sleep waiting for the rolling of my stomach to cease. Hoping I hadn’t stripped away all the lining from my throat. The flu continued most of these symptoms along with dizziness and a wheezy cough. Many, many slime filled tissues later… It feels glorious to finally be coming out the other end of this seasonal illness.

I embodied all those caricature sickies on television – hair like a birds nest built in a drug haze, baggy sweats, and a blotchy face from tissue abrasions. If anyone can stick around after seeing me like this – they’re a keeper!

About once or twice a year I find myself in a period where life happens with such intensity that I have no time left for writing, reading, or blogging. And this is coming from someone who religiously makes time for her craft every day. When I was finally able to sit down, clear headed and write, I was simply too exhausted. Even when I started to read, I’d manage maybe a page or two before nodding off.

In hindsight, I always boggle at the amount of work I could’ve completed in that time frame. I very much live to write… but it’s important to live to share, love, and experience too. There’s a balance in there somewhere, and I falter from one extreme to the other in hopes of living a full, happy life. Following passion and sharing happiness.

Does anyone else suffer from writers or readers guilt? Tell me I’m not alone.

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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.

No nudes at work.

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I swear a Google internet search is out to embarrass the heck out of me at times. Seriously, is there a little man at the other end of the line laughing his guts out as he slips inappropriate content into my search results? I like to hunt down images to include in my storyboards for works in progress. It helps flesh out the world building and characters for me.

Parental controls sometimes block content that I feel doesn’t need to be blocked. And, I’m not searching outright for adult material, so I am always surprised when confronting images pop up in my search results.

But recently I’ve been noticing a trend where pornographic content is increasingly slipping into the results. Yesterday I typed in “cow” and “farm” and about halfway down the page a number of full-frontal images of couples ‘doing it’ were on display. Even though I work in an office all alone, I quickly glanced behind me in shame. The same happened when I’ve typed in “romance” and “flowers.” What tha! I once got images of a girl performing fellatio after typing “buttons.” It was worse when I accidently typed in “drunk girl” into the search bar instead of in my document… my eyes just about fell out of my skull.

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I know I’m a little bit of a prude. But I can handle some titillation – I mean I’m an adult. I’ve seen things. But when you’re in the middle of typing out an article, or adding to that manuscript, and you’re getting a little graphic support and these explicit images jump out at you… well it’s unexpected. Shocking.

Needless to say, I’ve reviewed my parental controls a number of times, but something always manages to slip by every now and then.

It’s amusing at how the most random, unconnected phrase will result in some pornographic picture popping up in the search results.

I remember in one of my previous jobs in an open office plan. There were close to 80 of us on one floor at workstations, no walls. No partitions. It was easy to glance up at any given time and peruse many monitors. I used to get a lot of PowerPoint presentations to whip up, and doing image searches turned into a harrowing experience. Searching for images when the boss walks by and there’s a female presenting her rear like a baboon, pants down, facial expression like it was some kind of accident she was caught in such a compromising condition… yikes!

It is funny, almost slapstick, if you can roll with the punches and have a sense of humour. But there are some workplaces where something like this could have you hauled in front of Human Resources.

I dare not imagine what images would scroll up if I actually typed in something obviously graphic… I might have to wash out my eyeballs, or lose my lunch. I’m happy in my rainbows, unicorns and puppies bubble of positivity when I’m writing. Disturbing images give me a headache and have me wondering what kind of people are out there. Great ideas for horror or psychological thrillers when you’re building an antagonist. But I don’t need to be barraged by graphic content on a daily basis at work.

It’s not the search engines fault – if you do a bit of I.T. sleuthing, these images are being tagged with more and more mundane words in ways to trap a browser into visiting their website. It’s all about directing internet traffic. An unfortunate side of the internet – sprukers for dark net. I guess it’s to be expected. At your computer you can be exposed to the entire planet, both good and bad. It’s up to us to tailor what gets to pop up on our screen. And like story writing, those computer skills develop over time – or you simply develop a thick skin. Become desensitized and no longer ‘see’ that type of content.

I get a little worried about what our children get exposed to, and it reminds me to always be vigilant and monitor kids internet activity. Educate them about right and wrong and how to navigate those tricky situations online.  It’s better to be informed than ignorant I say.

Because isn’t it better to laugh about some random picture of a man dressed in leather with a gasmask on in the results when you type in “puppies” than start freaking out about the state of the worlds social morals?

 

What kind of random results have you gotten from an internet search that cause you to turn red?

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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.