Official Review: The Water Trade by Rob Smith

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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MarisaRose
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Official Review: The Water Trade by Rob Smith

Post by MarisaRose » 14 Jan 2017, 15:13

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Water Trade" by Rob Smith.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Water Trade by Rob Smith blends historical fact with a fantastical tale of war, love and family. A Japanese spy, US Navy officer and a civilian bookkeeper of Japanese descent are all brought together under mysterious circumstances at Pearl Harbor during World War II. The events that take place will forever haunt the trio until they are brought back together, years later to face the past. The Water Trade is a spy thriller intermingled with themes of deception, lost love, and patriotism.

In The Water Trade, Smith expertly crafts a web of relationships among the main players that excitingly comes together at the end resulting in an electrifying finale. The character connections and plot details were the best aspects of the novel. Though the main characters were all strong and complex, it was interesting to see how they reacted in times of great pressure and unethical circumstance. Miyuki, in particular, was a wonderful character. A Japanese civilian working as a bookkeeper, she chose to put herself in grave danger to potentially make a difference. Her brave disposition made for exceptionally good reading.

Although the plot of the story was thrilling, the writing lacked imagination and pacing. The tale itself moved quickly and excitingly through time, but the writing was often boring. The book was clearly well researched; unfortunately, the author chose to show this by dropping pages of historical information into the narrative, taking away from the excitement and suspense of the story.

Further, the character development was lacking in some instances. For example, the Japanese spy, Yoshimura, is introduced as a young boy who is plagued with bouts of mental instability which we later learn to be the symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, other than the brief mention of theses struggles in his childhood, the crippling disorder is never mentioned again. In no way does the disorder effect Yoshimura’s ability to be an intelligence officer or to live a mostly normal life after the war. From the beginning, this seemed like such an important plot device that I looked forward to reading about, unfortunately, the author did not follow through.

I rate The Water Trade 3 out of 4 stars. The novel is clearly well researched and the ideas behind the plot and characters were both exciting and well constructed, but too often the writing fell flat. If the author had written the novel in a style that was reflective of the fast paced and exciting story, The Water Trade would have earned a higher rating. Those who enjoy historical fiction focused on World War II as well as tales of espionage will surely enjoy this book.

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The Water Trade
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Post by HannahGreendale » 15 Jan 2017, 15:21

I cringed a little when I read about the pages of historical info being dropped into the narrative. Good to know. Very helpful review.

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MarisaRose
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Post by MarisaRose » 17 Jan 2017, 12:41

HannahGreendale wrote:I cringed a little when I read about the pages of historical info being dropped into the narrative. Good to know. Very helpful review.
Thank you! Yes, unfortunately, they were very disrupting!
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Post by Elaine5 » 17 Jan 2017, 13:48

The downfalls you describe tip the scales to the do not read side for me. Too bad because it sounds like the plot really has potential. Thanks for a great review.
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MarisaRose
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Post by MarisaRose » 17 Jan 2017, 15:08

Elaine5 wrote:The downfalls you describe tip the scales to the do not read side for me. Too bad because it sounds like the plot really has potential. Thanks for a great review.
Glad you found the review helpful! :tiphat:
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Post by LivreAmour217 » 17 Jan 2017, 15:39

Nice review! It's a shame about the dull writing, though, because the concept is so promising. I also think that it's odd that the author did not expand upon Yoshimura's mental health issues. Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong condition.
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Post by Rachaelamb1 » 17 Jan 2017, 21:33

It sounds a little too heavy for my taste, but that's great that the plot is exciting.
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Post by Insightsintobooks » 17 Jan 2017, 22:16

It sounds like a good concept. I think that if I were to read it I would want to know more about the bipolar disorder as well. Great review.
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Post by MarisaRose » 18 Jan 2017, 07:05

LivreAmour217 wrote:Nice review! It's a shame about the dull writing, though, because the concept is so promising. I also think that it's odd that the author did not expand upon Yoshimura's mental health issues. Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong condition.
The lack of development with Yoshimura's mental disorder was the most disappointing aspect of the book! There was a lot of potential for a well rounded story.
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Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 18 Jan 2017, 11:10

Great review! Historical fiction can be so gratifying to read. Sounds like this person has too much history for history's sake instead of weaving it gently through that narrative. I had been interested in this one - glad to read your review!
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Post by MarisaRose » 18 Jan 2017, 11:21

greenstripedgiraffe wrote:Great review! Historical fiction can be so gratifying to read. Sounds like this person has too much history for history's sake instead of weaving it gently through that narrative. I had been interested in this one - glad to read your review!
Thank you! Glad you found the review helpful. I agree, historical fiction can be incredibly satisfying! :techie-studyingbrown:
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Post by kandscreeley » 27 Apr 2017, 13:00

HannahGreendale wrote:I cringed a little when I read about the pages of historical info being dropped into the narrative. Good to know. Very helpful review.
My thoughts exactly. There is a way to introduce historical fact without it becoming tedious. It's too bad. This sounds interesting.
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Post by godreaujea » 11 May 2017, 15:49

Sounds like an intriguing concept, but based on your final notes, I think I will pass on this one! Nice, honest review!

-- 11 May 2017, 15:49 --

Sounds like an intriguing concept, but based on your final notes, I think I will pass on this one! Nice, honest review!
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Post by tarafarah7 » 11 Jun 2017, 06:45

Thank you so much for your review! At first I thought it was just me, but I see that more of you feel that this may not be the book for you. I did download my copy in case I would like to check it out again in the future, but right now it just seems like it's too heavy of a read for me to tackle right now. I do hope others enjoy it it though, as it does sound well researched. Also, with the "ah ha" moment being at the very end when the characters come back together, it sounds like readers will be on their toes from start to finish. Congratulations, Rob Smith, on a well written book and best of luck! :-)

@MarisaRose, keep up the great work!

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Post by ayyyesami » 11 Jun 2017, 09:53

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I've been trying to find more books in the genre to read. I love the idea of this book already and your review made me excited to read it! Even if it fell short in places, it sounds like an interesting read that I'll enjoy.
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