By Bree Wolf
Gabriel was a boy lost in a world of fantasy in his computer games until his fighting / busy parents sent him to his grandparents’ place in the countryside. With his life turned upside down, Gabriel tries to adjust, only to realize there is adventure outside the digital world.
I’ve now caught onto the trend—that is the trend in most of the self-published works I review—and Fireflies is no different…sadly. With most books of this fashion, the author has a bit of talent with words and strings lines together decently, sometimes very well. This author, too, exemplifies this.
Even in broad daylight the house seemed haunted. Most of the paint was peeled off, giving the wood a run-down impression. Bushes and trees, not to mention the lawn, grew in wild abundance. They hadn’t seen shears or a lawn mower in years.
She gives us what any good writer should: details. She paints a picture…and then things go awry. The fault in a lot of indie works is not necessarily the moments of description, but dialog. Here, too, I find it difficult to believe any child, no matter what age, consistently speaks like these kids do.
“She told me she would die.”
“That’s not true. You understood her wrong.”
I don’t know how, but it feels scripted or what someone would expect another person to say without delving into the emotions of another…or at times, it was just straight up filler. Overall, it really brought me down and irked me most of the time.
Here I encountered another common problem with these books: too many characters. We get a good sense of Gabriel from the beginning—a shy introvert. Cool. Even though his parents aren’t one hundred percent fleshed out, seeing they send him off soon and disappear from the story, it’s forgiveable.
But upon making new friends in the little burg he ends up in, we are bombarded with names and new characters aplenty, among them are—if I remember—Eddie, Jordan, Liam, and Jack. We meet others, but initially this is the crew he hangs with. Beyond their names each character is given one identifying trait that they repeat incessantly in order to…characterize? I’m not sure.
If anything the author should have trimmed one or two characters out, especially after yet another character, Hannah, joins. By the end, they are like one large roaming gang of kids—which though it reminds me of my hometown youth, it doesn’t pan out well when the characters can’t develop well.
The story, per se, wasn’t bad. As far as middle grade goes, there is a lot of range within this group. That being said, this book feels like it belongs at the lower end of the age range. The story is not particularly difficult or well developed and can be easily read by younger readers. For older ones—as in fifth grade reading level or higher—they might find it a bit tedious and unbelievable, as I did.
Not only that, but I also found the movement of the plot and the unraveling of the riddles a bit ridiculous, but this was only further exaggerated by the tragic dialog. If their conversations were a bit more sparkling, quite possibly the transitions from one scene to another wouldn’t feel so poorly done. To be honest, I can’t say.
It may have sounded like a bad review, but in the end—a week after having read it—I don’t have hateful memories of the book as I’ve had with much worse reads. The idea and attempt was good. There were just too many skipped parts that lowered the book in my opinion as a whole. Like I said, too many characters made everyone seem flat and lifeless, while the watered-down, I-think-a-kid-would-talk-like-this dialog really dampened my overall impression. But…the author seems to be figuring out what needs to be done. Maybe in the future she’ll hit the right mix of every element. As for this one, I’d say it was a miss.
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