Official Review: Dead Wave by Bryan A. Tranka

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inaramid
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Official Review: Dead Wave by Bryan A. Tranka

Post by inaramid » 25 Jan 2019, 22:05

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Dead Wave" by Bryan A. Tranka.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Bryan A. Tranka’s Dead Wave has one of the most inventive settings and most idiosyncratic set of characters I have encountered in a book, film, or TV series in recent years. It’s so unfortunate that various writing and editing issues failed to provide a solid grounding for what could have been an epic, thought-provoking piece of fiction.

Dead Wave takes place in Tranka’s vividly reimagined version of Purgatory where beings called energosomas (or what could be labeled as spirits, ghosts, or ghouls) dwell. The story introduces several characters but mainly follows an enigmatic energosoma called the Baroness and her crew of misfits referred to as the Naysayers or the Nays. When a powerful object is stolen from an energosoma titan, the Nays set off in pursuit of the thief. However, there are other parties involved, pitting the Nays against elements far beyond their expectations, leading to confrontations that could potentially destroy the balance of their world.

As best as I can tell, that is the gist of the story. While it sounds straightforward, the endless expositions about the physical landscape and the other denizens of Purgatory made the narrative progressively convoluted. Dead Wave defies conventional writing by being neither plot-driven nor character-driven. Instead, it's so heavily world-driven. The setting is the focus of the book, and everything that happens seems to occur for the sole purpose of exploring the world and introducing the reader to the creatures who reside in it. The backstories of the Nays, revealed in flashbacks during the course of their escapades, were the few bright spots that brought some semblance of heart to the story. These were the things I looked forward to — getting to know who the Nays had been while they still lived and gaining some insight into why they are stuck in Purgatory.

Tranka’s vision of Purgatory (and the energosomas) is undoubtedly an astounding feat of the imagination, but it was just too much information (and characters) crammed into a single book and mercilessly foisted upon the reader. The details were more alienating than immersive, and there were unnecessary phrases that bogged down the story’s pace (e.g., repeated mentions of the length of a character’s nails). I could imagine Dead Wave finding more success as a graphic novel as many elements that were so overwhelming in textual form might be more tenable in a visual medium. At the very least, some illustrations (e.g., a map of Purgatory) could be included in the book to help readers envision the world a little more clearly. The book is also in dire need of another round of editing. Comma splices, confused words (e.g., it’s vs. its, lie vs. lay), and spelling errors (e.g., decent vs. descent, clever vs. cleaver) were present throughout.

As the first book in a trilogy, there is ample time for Dead Wave to redeem itself, especially with a good artist and editor working alongside the author. In a revised form, I’d be happy to recommend the book to fans of dark fantasy and those who are interested in the concept of purgatory/limbo, both as a place and a state of existence. However, the story also contains gore, violence, and a bluntly written scene depicting the sexual assault of a child, all of which may be disturbing for other readers.

I rate Dead Wave 2 out of 4 stars. There are great elements here that would have made for an outstanding story — if only the writing had been clearer, if only the narrative had focused on a few key characters, and if only the editing had been thorough. The line between mind-blowing and mind-numbing is thin, and while Dead Wave straddled the boundaries for a moment there, it fell significantly short of the epic book it could have been.

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Post by Rose Harebate » 01 Feb 2019, 06:06

The plot seems interesting. Too bad the writing is unclear with unfocused narrative. Let alone poor editing. Thanks for the helpful review.

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Post by kandscreeley » 01 Feb 2019, 08:38

I'm in awe of how detailed the author is in the world building. It's just too bad that it overwhelms the story because it does sound as if it has potential. I'll wait for a bit more editing, though. Thanks.
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Post by MsTri » 01 Feb 2019, 09:46

I LOVE the idea for this, but saddened that the excessive world-building ruined everything else. I love your idea of it being a graphic novel instead. That'd probably be perfect.

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Post by kdstrack » 01 Feb 2019, 10:43

The author presents a unique story line, but there are too many dark themes in this story. Your review presents the themes in a fair way. I enjoyed your writing and honest opinions.

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Post by Jessacardinal » 01 Feb 2019, 14:24

I like how you are immediately upfront about the book rather than spending the first half of your review building up the plot only to follow by discussing everything wrong with it. Hopefully, the author can spend some time editing and provide everyone with the book they really want to read in the near future.
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Post by Cotwani » 01 Feb 2019, 15:31

Lol -neither character driven nor plot driven, but world driven? I hope the author tries to redeem the book cos I bet not many people will be happy to trudge the thin line between mind-blowing and mind-numbing that the book drags them through. Great review!
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Post by nonamer_miss » 01 Feb 2019, 20:14

I think the setting of this story is very interesting. As a christian, I always wonder how the purgatory looks and how is the life there, I think this book will enrich my imagination. Thanks for the insightful review!

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Post by inaramid » 01 Feb 2019, 20:19

Rose Harebate wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 06:06
The plot seems interesting. Too bad the writing is unclear with unfocused narrative. Let alone poor editing. Thanks for the helpful review.
Yes, it is. Thanks for dropping by!

kandscreeley wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 08:38
I'm in awe of how detailed the author is in the world building. It's just too bad that it overwhelms the story because it does sound as if it has potential. I'll wait for a bit more editing, though. Thanks.
It seems like the author constructed the world first - he mentions an Encyclopedia he has been writing about Purgatory. It was just too much. Thank you for your comment!

MsTri wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 09:46
I LOVE the idea for this, but saddened that the excessive world-building ruined everything else. I love your idea of it being a graphic novel instead. That'd probably be perfect.
I think it would. I could just imagine a splash panel with all the main characters on it. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by inaramid » 01 Feb 2019, 20:37

kdstrack wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 10:43
The author presents a unique story line, but there are too many dark themes in this story. Your review presents the themes in a fair way. I enjoyed your writing and honest opinions.
Thank you for dropping by! The book had potential - just that it was a bit much for one book.

Jessacardinal wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 14:24
I like how you are immediately upfront about the book rather than spending the first half of your review building up the plot only to follow by discussing everything wrong with it. Hopefully, the author can spend some time editing and provide everyone with the book they really want to read in the near future.
Oh, I also do that ("spending the first half building the plot") :). I just feel that this book needs a different approach. Yes, a hard edit is definitely in order for this one. Thanks for sharing your insight!

Cotwani wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 15:31
Lol -neither character driven nor plot driven, but world driven? I hope the author tries to redeem the book cos I bet not many people will be happy to trudge the thin line between mind-blowing and mind-numbing that the book drags them through. Great review!
Yes, I think it's very world-driven and - quite unfortunately - more mind-numbing than fascinating. Thanks for commenting!

nonamer_miss wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 20:14
I think the setting of this story is very interesting. As a christian, I always wonder how the purgatory looks and how is the life there, I think this book will enrich my imagination. Thanks for the insightful review!
Hm, I honestly have not thought about it from a Christian perspective, but this does present an interesting take on the concept of purgatory. Thanks for commenting!

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Post by gen_g » 02 Feb 2019, 23:01

Like you, I also love the premise, but it's really unfortunate that the story is so world-driven, as you put it. The author seems to have gotten carried away! Thanks for the brilliant review!

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Post by inaramid » 03 Feb 2019, 21:10

gen_g wrote:
02 Feb 2019, 23:01
Like you, I also love the premise, but it's really unfortunate that the story is so world-driven, as you put it. The author seems to have gotten carried away! Thanks for the brilliant review!
Thanks for commenting! It was an odd experience for sure, having the plot and characters take a backseat in favor of the setting.

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Post by nooregano » 05 Feb 2019, 23:19

This sounds like a really cool concept, and I LOVE intricately-built worlds! I genuinely enjoy how you've written this review: it's very thoroughly unpacked, astute and insightful. I immediately pictured how the plot unfolded and how the writing was in my head. Terrific review!

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Post by inaramid » 06 Feb 2019, 01:52

nooregano wrote:
05 Feb 2019, 23:19
This sounds like a really cool concept, and I LOVE intricately-built worlds! I genuinely enjoy how you've written this review: it's very thoroughly unpacked, astute and insightful. I immediately pictured how the plot unfolded and how the writing was in my head. Terrific review!
I'm glad you also see the potential in this one, and I'm happy my review helped you get a feel for the book. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by ShelleyMeeks » 07 Feb 2019, 17:24

A world-driven novel? Like nooregano, I am particularly fond of complex worlds, but not at the risk of losing the characters. I need compelling characters to experience the story I am reading. Thank you for the review.

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