Official Review: An Empty Swing by N. J. Hanson

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Kathryn Price
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Official Review: An Empty Swing by N. J. Hanson

Post by Kathryn Price »

[Following is an official review of "An Empty Swing" by N. J. Hanson.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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An Empty Swing by N. J. Hanson is a paranormal ghost story with a chilling premise, complex characters, and a satisfying ending. The story itself is intriguing, the type of story that leaves you hanging on each page until the end. But in terms of content, this story is a better fit for mature audiences than the younger readers it seems to be directed at.

Hiding from the class bully on a local playground, Luis meets a girl with auburn hair and a red beanie, named Alice. She reveals herself as a ghost, with no memory of her past life or death, linked to the playground along with several other ghost children. Finding out that ghosts exist because of unfinished business in life, Luis takes it upon himself to discover her identity and help Alice fulfill her purpose by finding out how she died. With the help of a girl named Serena Ravenwood, they investigate the deaths of Alice and the others, but matters are complicated by a vindictive ghost who has dire plans for both the living and the dead.

This book has a very appealing plot with an appropriate level of suspense for the danger and complexity that the characters face. Most of the characters have a distinct background and motive, with a degree of pathos that makes it possible to empathize with them. I enjoyed the different topics and issues raised within the narrative, some of them quite difficult, and the writing, though simple, made the pages come alive.

However, this story appears to be written for younger reading levels both in quality of writing and in the characters, using simple words, short sentences, and a lot of unnecessary dialogue to make sure the reader understands what is going on. This is slightly perplexing, given that the story contains content that is much better suited for mature readers, including a horrifying scene where a pedophile rapes a child. This causes a major conflict of interest between the author’s perceived intended audience and the one it best fits. Additionally, the book was obviously not professionally edited. I found dozens of grammatical errors and typos, distracting me and interrupting the flow of the story.

My official rating of this book is a 2 out of 4 stars. This book would be much more appealing if it could be revised and edited to conform to the audience it is intended for, and eliminate the bulk of the spelling and grammar mistakes. Though the story was interesting to me, I do not consider it a good enough book that I would suggest it to others.

An Empty Swing
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Post by Sahani Nimandra »

The plot seem a thriller but I think if they made corrections and conducted proof-reading the story will get a independent flow. This would be a added advantage. Thank you for the descriptive details!
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Post by kandscreeley »

Wow! That does seem to be quite a conundrum! A book that is supposedly young adult with mature scenes. Sounds like there is some editing needed. Nonetheless, I do like the premise. Thanks for the information!
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Post by inaramid »

A book with an identity crisis :) I hoped there were trigger warnings for this in the description. That rape scene is quite disturbing.
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Post by MsTri »

It's always a shame about grammatical errors; how hard can it be to get SOMEone to go over the book, maybe even a local teacher, if not an actual editor?!

As far as the audience, I agree that that can be a difficult area. I'm currently writing a book, but not sure who to market if for when it's done. I started it with children in mind, but it's coming out a lot more mature than I intended. But at the same time, I'm not sure that the subject matter will be of interest to those of a maturity level to read it. Quite a quandary, indeed.

Aside from all that, I really do like the premise, so I may go ahead and take my chances and give it a read.
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Post by CNWaweru »

Nice review. I agree with you that the book would suit young people undergoing identity crisis most as it may help them get a better grasp of what it is.
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Post by Hildah Mose »

Horrific scenes should never be recommended to young children. I feel it makes them develop weird characters. Grammatical errors can also be a pain. Thanks for the review. It came out nice
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