The Gifts of Life by Oliver Smuhar

Hello, fellow bookworm!

I’ve finally managed to complete my Master’s degree which optimistically not only means that I’ll have more time for reading books for fun again, but also that I’ll be able to get back into the swing of regular posts.

Fun fact: since the last time I posted WordPress has changed A LOT so whether or not this post will be aesthetically formatted is a matter of luck trial and error at this point. I’ll give it the old college try!

Synopsis via goodreads:

Inside this book hides a magical world that is celebrating something special! It’s that time of year where every major city gathers for another Ascension Day. But this year it’s different. Inside, awaiting and resting, are Perry’s powers. On this day, he, his friends and everyone else who lives and breathes, can use their powers through the ceremony of a godlike light. But this day is different! Inside the White City there is an evil army. After the destruction of his home, Perry finds himself lost with his best friend, his sister and their servant, Bailey, an Ever who leads them to safety. Outside, on their journey, the group is forced to use their powers. But as time fades, so does their humanity. Releasing their gifts of life to the world, only leads to mutation. And what was, may never be, but this time it’s different. From the plains of the White City, Kelton Whide, to the forest of the Green City, Everbreen, nature takes its course. And where the Panda talks, a Masked Man mumbles and many white orchids turn to red, what is sacrificed inside this book leaves this magical world truely in awe!

Disclaimer* I received this as a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are my own and are in no way influenced by another party.

Color me impressed. There were moments while reading this book that I forgot that it was written by someone as young as Oliver (like, hello he’s only 19!). The fact that someone so young can even write a book is impressive.

That being said, there were other times while reading where (mostly dialogue) felt very young, inappropriate, and quite frankly, at times crude. I don’t have exact page numbers since I was reading and making notes on my kindle, but here are some examples where I cringed a little while reading.

“Haha. Shut up… Okay, I’m gonna take a monster crap in your bathroom.”

“C’mon homos!”

“He was extremely neat for a guy– OCD neat.”

“Eddy had this amazing power where his vomit could turn into anything you desired.”

“Uh– I don’t think that made sense. But I didn’t poo myself again”

“some of the nurse chicks had begun to fight back as well.”

I can handle having characters who annoy me or who I don’t really like, but it’s frustrating to me as a reader to feel like I’m supposed to like characters who speak like this. I would strongly suggest a change to this kind of dialogue. Not only would I avoid the mention of feces and vomit – *eww* – but I would also want things that could be taken as offensive to certain readers to be reworked. The terminology used such as “homos”, “OCD neat”, and “chicks” has, in my personal opinion, no place in a book published within the last 10 years.

Now, the story itself has value, and the world where it takes place is also very entertaining. I’m a big fan of world-building and I enjoyed the traveling that happened throughout the book.

Another point where I feel there is room for improvement, however, is how the author goes about expressing the feelings of his characters. While this didn’t bother me as much as the quotes discussed above, I truly feel that the book could be vastly improved upon by changing this aspect. For example, the main characters, Perry and Faith, in my opinion, could have had a much more compelling, intense, and suspenseful love story. I would have included that as a spoiler alert, but that exactly is the problem. As soon as the reader is introduced to these characters, it is 3000% clear that they will end up together.

Perry and Faith are also big offenders of long, rambling dialogues. I unterstand that it is meant to make the text seem more like spoken, rather than written speech, but it comes off as rushed and as if the dialogue is running ahead and the reader is just trying to keep up.

There is sexual violence in this book and I would highly recommend the author think about how he wants that experience to affect the character. I won’t spoil anything, but the survivor’s reaction to the events that followed the attack really bothered me. I think the intentions are good, but I don’t think that’s how anyone would feel about their attacker.

Speaking of attacks and other evil doings, I found it refreshing, that the author had no trouble adding violence and evil doings to the evil characters. Also, props to Oliver because I had no idea about a certain evil character until it happened! Nothing is less convincing for a reader than an “evil” character who is just evil with no evidence to back it up. I think applying that kind of mentality to other aspects of the book could thoroughly improve it overall. Readers shouldn’t just be told that someone is evil, just as they shouldn’t be told that someone is good or that two someones are in love, all of these things should be able to be inferred by the reader through the way the book is written.

All in all, I really think this has the makings of a good book. I just wish these things could have been worked out prior to publishing. I can only hope that the author will be able to take these things into consideration when working on future projects.

Thanks for reading! -xo Amber

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