Scarecrows (Tom Upton)


Title: Scarecrows
Author: Tom Upton
Available from: Amazon

I’m going to start with the most disturbing thing about this book: the grammar, punctuation and spelling. The real horror of this book is that an author with multiple titles would publish something that reads like an English class essay written by an indifferent 8th grader.

As I was reading it, I was trying really hard not to be some blue-haired old lady, nitpicking over commas. But c’mon – there’s a reason for grammar and punctuation and that reason is clear communication. Many times, I re-read a sentence or a paragraph, trying to figure out what would be the intended message if the author’s English language skills were up to the task. It breaks up the impact of the story. It’s annoying.

Part of the craft of a writer is mastery of the language. Whenever I read a book that has numerous errors like this, I immediately downgrade my estimation of the author as a craftsman. People who write love words and people who love words know how to use them. They do not confuse they’re with there or their. They do not use reek when they mean wreak. They do not drop articles, use the wrong verb tense, or construct sentences that are so convoluted their meaning is unclear, nor do they punctuate them in a way that confuses the reader even further. If they’re smart, they know their limits and know to hire someone to fix all these things. I find no excuse whatsoever for not correcting them in the e-book version after many reviewers have pointed them out.

I’ll step down from that soapbox now and get on to the story.

This story is good in most places and brilliant in some, but I found the ending disappointing and anticlimactic. The story starts with good premise, good character development and continuously building tension. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have overlooked all the English errors and kept reading.  I was thinking to myself ok, I can see why this book is being rated highly in spite of the obvious problems. Unfortunately, the promise didn’t continue all the way through to the end. I thought it ended up a bit of a mess. It wasn’t scary or horrifying or thrilling. It was like the story completely lost all momentum and was just in the mop-up phase – and there’s nothing thrilling about mopping. I kept reading, thinking maybe it would pick up or there was something unexpected coming – but it didn’t and there wasn’t. It was like Mark Martin running out of gas a quarter mile from the finish line, then just coasting over it. I’m still puzzled as to why this is being rated so highly in the reviews.

Now, my next favorite soapbox, which is price. This book is $0.99 at Amazon. Is it worth it? I’ll read just about anything for that price. If you can overlook the English errors and you have a couple hours to kill, it’s a pretty good read for the price.

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