Great promise but poor structure and execution for a novel.
Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction
No. of pages: 224
Kari is a freelance hacker, taking jobs from clients to design anything from art to security software. In a world where 3D printers, drones, and computers connect directly to the brain, Kari finds keeping her expert programing skills secret while trying to finish high school almost impossible. With the threat of the second Civil War looming, Kari must decide how far she will go to keep herself, her family, and her friends out of harm’s way, even when her choices might have consequences she’s not ready to face.
I was really excited to read this – I conversed with the author and loved the premise of the novel. There was so much going for it… and then I started reading…
‘Freelancer’ is difficult to get into at the beginning – bogged down with technical details and simulations instead of getting on with (and setting up) the story. Lingwall missed a proper introduction to the novel and jumped right into the middle part.
The protagonist, Kari, is hard to relate to and her motives difficult to understand. The more I read, the less I cared about her. She was coming off like a paranoid prepper – which was weird mixed in with all the teen high school angst. There was little background given or inner monologue leaving her actions as mere plot devices directed obviously by the author. One thing I will applaud was that it was good to read about a diverse character, though, unfortunately, her heritage played absolutely no aspect in the narrative (or her identity) whatsoever. A prime opportunity to create conflict and tension missed. Sadly this trend of little or no character development is also prevalent in the remainder of the cast.
Maybe because of the major issues I had with the narrative style and basic novel writing tools, Kari’s skills felt unrealistic – I guess if there was better world building and character development I wouldn’t have felt this way. Additionally, because of this, the number of times Kari was put in jail felt more like she had been sent to her room for being a bad girl – it didn’t feel like she was being threatened, punished or even all that frightened about the turn of events.
It is obvious Lingwall knows what he is writing about when it comes to the science fiction aspect of the story – very cool concepts of technology. It can also be said that his action scenes are excellent.Though, it was like this book was written around a number of action scenes without any thought to the characters and how to structure a novel. Fun, but needs A LOT of development.
Elements of great political intrigue leading up to a civil war (I’m presuming – the writing wasn’t very precise). Only because of no world building for the political climate either – am I just meant to accept it what is going on? I was a little frustrated by the halfway point. If it weren’t for the personal attachment with David (Kari’s love interest), and his family I may have not even bothered.
Consequently, I could have skipped first half of the book. It did little to set up the characters, their motivations, what they stood to lose, and the climate/world. So many essential elements in writing a novel overlooked. The formatting with frequent italicised thoughts were distracting and not needed. One chapter actually started with “Insert chapter nine text here.” Inexcusable! Where was the proofreading! So many elements giving me a very bad impression. ‘Freelancer’ needs a heavy hand from a professional editor. So much promise but no delivery.
It’s a pity because this book has a great climactic ending, though the note after the dramatic scene felt lukewarm and as directionless as the start of the novel. Reactions from the adults in this scenario felt contrived and unrealistic. With phenomenal action scenes, amazing plot, I wish it was executed with precision.
I know that this is a debut for a series, but I won’t be continuing on, or recommending this to anyone. A few shining moments, but the rest just gave me a headache.
Overall feeling: oh no…
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