Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Review - Overland

By Mark Stephen Levy
© Copyright 2009
Published by AuthorHouse
ISBN #978-1-4389-9626-4
237 Pages

This fiction tale takes the primary character, Danny Benson, on an exciting yet dangerous journey via the “Magic Bus” to Afghanistan where he hopes to find the woman he loves.
Heather had already left on the same route headed eventually for Katmandu but neither of them makes it that far. Instead, Danny finds her in Kabul amid the turmoil of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Pakistan. He hopes she’ll explain why she opted to travel and find herself rather than marry him and live the life of a doctor’s wife in California.
As fate would have it, a bomb blast sends them in different directions before any explanation can be made and Danny finds himself stranded in this foreign land not knowing what became of his beloved Heather. Of course, the search for her continues but with a surprising twist that brings him more happiness than he could ever have imagined.
It is clear that a great deal of thought went into the plot of Overland – the title taken from a travel guide book entitled Going Overland that features various countries including Pakistan and India. The first chapter takes the reader back to a time when Danny visited Ireland, where a lovely lass with sparkling green eyes enters his life. The story then moves ahead 11 years to Washington, D.C. where Heather and another man enter into a heated discussion at a local bar. Both of these events are tied up nicely at the end of the book as to how they relate to the overall story.
The characters are well developed and the reader soon becomes attached – particularly to Danny. The descriptions of the various locations are full and captivating, letting the reader take them in with all senses. In the end, we celebrate along with the main character and share fully in his joy.
There are, however, a few minor spelling errors (typos?) throughout the book. (ie.) (“…everything swum as in a dream,” “…letting her shoulders slump in heap,” “…moved in overnight night,” “Heather looked at him with exhausted, perhaps….” “He leafed though the pages.”) There are also a few run-on sentences but not enough to become distracting to the reader. (ie.) (“This wasn’t his trip, he wasn’t prone to stop and linger at the sights.”)
What is more disconcerting though is the frequent repetition of words. For example: “She said she felt more at home there than in her own neighborhood back home. She is still looking for that place. Home.” Or “Within the hour, they arrived at the Afghani border. The bus stopped at the border.” The use of “Istanbul repetitively in Chapter 9 is another example.
But what is most irritating is the never-ending use of the name, Danny. Here is just one example: “Sergeant Chernoff ordered Danny to halt. The tank just behind them moved ahead of Danny then stopped. Danny remained handcuffed and hoisted on top of the tank, then shoved into the tank’s belly. The Soviets were forceful and unkind. They tossed Danny around and let him fall to the floor without any assistance.”
Four times in one paragraph is just too much. The reader knows after the first chapter, whom he is and by using more creative sentences, this repetition can easily be avoided.
Now everyone knows that I truly hate having to point out such things but would it be fair to those whose work does not contain these problems? As much as I’d love to give everyone a raving review, it cannot be done with honesty and integrity on my part. Writing is in itself, a learning process and the best way to learn is to take constructive criticism with grace. That way, an author’s future books will undoubtedly be much better.
Overland is a great story, full of adventure, humor, and life and death situations that put the reader on the edge of his or her seat. Regardless of the errors noted, it’s still a good effort by this author and I suspect his future works will be much improved. My only suggestion to this and other authors in the same boat is to ensure that they hire a competent editor before sending their manuscript off for publication.
To get your copy of Overland, go HERE.

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