3 out of 4 stars
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Explore worlds of fantasy and adventure where anything is possible in Book of 5 by richard t. (The author spells his name without capital letters.) As the title reveals, this book is a collection of five riveting short stories written by a promising new author. The first story, called “The Park,” presents a futuristic solution to prison reform by employing spacecraft and robotic technology to deal with inmates. Next, “Fractured” is the cautionary tale of a group of chivalrous young men. They must learn to keep their bravado in check and pick their battles more wisely if they want to survive and accomplish their goals. In “You Can’t Catch Me,” a cocky murderer is on the loose, and a retired detective is determined to bring the killer to justice. “The Tolands” is a very emotional story about three brothers who face life’s challenges as a seemingly unstoppable team. Then finally, in “White Cloud,” a widower tries a new hobby to distract himself from his grief. What will he find on his treasure hunts?
I must admit that I am not fond of the cover design. The plain black-and-white drawings give the book a dull appearance. As is, it resembles an old-fashioned literature textbook. The author’s writing style is straightforward and concise, and each short story is told from the third-person perspective of a narrator. The themes of this collection include science fiction, fantasy, mystery, crime, vigilante justice, family bonds, and friendship. The text does not contain any lewd scenes or profanity. There is violence, but it is not too explicit.
There were several positive aspects in this book. The thing I enjoyed most was the writer’s boundless creativity and his ability to craft unexpected plot twists. As the narratives progressed, foreshadowing and suspense kept me guessing what would happen next. Crime stories are definitely richard t’s strength. His knowledge of police procedures makes me wonder if he has experience in law enforcement. Ample backstory details were provided for most of the characters, so it was easy to empathize with them. “You Can’t Catch Me” and “White Cloud” were my favorite stories. Those two, along with “Fractured” and “The Tolands,” could be turned into very entertaining novels. So, I hope longer versions will be written because the concepts and the characters were already developed. “The Park” was the only story that I felt was self-contained and should remain in its current form.
Unfortunately, there are also a number of negative issues with this publication. First of all, the text needs to undergo a round of professional editing because there are many errors. Second, most of the stories’ conclusions seem rushed, and there are lengthy build-up scenes before things get interesting. That is why I think they would work better as separate novels or novellas. I also dislike how some of the characters seem like disposable extras in a film. Many of them were killed, and then the story continued as though their deaths were insignificant. Lastly, there are no strong female characters in any of these stories. In fact, there isn’t much of a female presence at all. The few women that are in the stories are portrayed as damsels in distress. The author may want to consider adding some female characters who challenge that stereotype.
I have decided to rate Book of 5 three out of four stars. I had to deduct a star because of the number of errors I found and the other issues I mentioned. In spite of its flaws, this was an entertaining book overall. Some fine-tuning could make it great. I recommend this collection to fans of science fiction, fantasy, and crime thrillers. As death is a recurring element in these thought-provoking tales, we are reminded of the fragility of life. This author has a lot of potential, so I hope to see more from him in the future.
Book of 5
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