The cover drew me in, though ‘prequel story’ gave me reservations. Reservations which ultimately showed up on cue and sat down to eat.
Let me state at the beginning that the writing is good. The story, however, is not.
Because it isn’t a story. It’s the beginning of a story. I got a good glimpse of Phoenix (the main character). I saw something I liked there. He loves money and perks, but he didn’t seem like a bad guy.
Then he’s called away to be yelled at by his boss for lack empathy, and he’s demoted. And that’s the whole ‘story’.
That’s not a story. It’s the set up for story. For it to be a story, we’d need more emotion from Phoenix, more bitterness or resolve. We’d need to see his lack of empathy in action. Yes, he bought a single expensive drink, but that doesn’t equal a lack of empathy. It’s a nice, subtle way to show such a vice, but this is flash fiction. I need concrete examples.
Phoenix is a protector of humanity, who has no empathy for those he protects. It’s such a great concept. And I have absolute faith that it could be shown, and addressed, in flash fiction.
That didn’t happen here.
We got what felt like the beginning of a great first chapter of a book. And as such, I would have been hooked. But I didn’t get any sort of emotional charge from this. I felted cheated at the end.
This is a set up to her series. And a fan of the series might be all a twitter reading about this moment, but I don’t know this character or his story. And I got cheated out of genuine attachment and emotional release reading this.
As a writer, this bugs me. If you couldn’t tell.
Now, having bitched up all that…
I will, again, state that the actual words on paper were good. I was engaged. I liked Phoenix. So this taste of a story, this… prologue, grinds all my gears.
Please writers, if you write a prequel, pretend you haven’t written the rest of the story. Because some people are going to pick this up without reading the rest of the series. Especially if it’s your freebie to lure them into the series.
So call this what it is: a prologue to the series. That bit of story everybody told you to cut or make into a first chapter because agents hate prologues, make that your little nugget to lure us in. Then we aren’t expecting a story.
But so help me Calliope, Melpomene, and Thalia, if you call something a story, then I need an actual plot and resolution.