Release date: February 20
I’m super conflicted about this book. So this review will have two distinct parts; One where I praise the story, and one where I criticize the writing.
I thought the premise for this book was amazing and I loved the storyline. I was sucked in from the very first page (it would be hard not to, it was a scene with Ryu getting railed by an unknown Alpha after all). And what’s even more, the plot held my interest to the very end. Which, quite frankly, is a minor miracle considering the quality of the writing.
Anyway. Ryu is an omega, ostracized from his clan and unable to shift as a consequence. He’s a skilled fighter – samurai style fighting – on a mission. He’s out to kill Lycans, mindless, half-wolf monsters, that will kill anything in their way and spread the Lycan disease as they go. But after a Lycan fight gone wrong, he’s found by his old clan and its Alpa – Ryu’s mate. Micah McCorbyn mated Ryu years ago, and then he betrayed him. Ryu can never forgive Micah for what he did, still bearing the scars from that betrayal on his body. But when Micah reveals that Ryu’s foster-mother is dying from the Lycan disease, Ryu agrees to come back. Micah’s condition? That Ryu takes his place by Micah’s side as his mate.
This is a great adventure set in an alternative version of Japan where a number of wolf clans rule the lands. It’s a constant battle for dominance and resources and Ryu and Micah both grew up training how to fight. The story covers the present time race against the clock to find a cure for the Lycan disease, as well as Ryu’s childhood and the history between him and Micah. It’s captivating as hell. Ryu has been so hurt and abused in his life, and still he keeps going. He’s such a strong and intriguing character it’s impossible not to be fascinated by him. Micah is tougher to like. Maybe because the whole book is told through Ryu’s POV and the specifics of their history is revealed slowly. At first, I only felt resentment for him. In the end, it was slightly better even though I thought he was no way near redeeming himself.
So this read had me enthralled. Which – this is important to point out – is a huge (HUGE) compliment to the story.
Because I have yet to encounter another book with such poor writing as Claw of Exile that I didn’t quit within the first few chapters.
Now. Two things I need to mention before getting into it.
First, I’ve read an uncorrected proof of this book. This means there will be spelling errors and other minor mistakes and it’s generally understood that these (probably) will be corrected in the final version. That’s what proof-readers are for after all. So, as a reviewer, I disregard such mistakes and try my best not to let them affect my opinion (or review) of the book. And, this is usually what I do. Because the mistakes are indeed minor and even talented writers will naturally make them. But. When the writing is altogether so subpar that it’s obvious it can’t be salvaged even by the most skilled editor, well, then it’s pretty clear the writing in the final copy will be of poor quality as well. Meaning I can’t ignore all the errors and rate this book solely by the story.
(But, if you still think I’m being totally unfair in criticizing the writing in an uncorrected proof. Then you should stop reading now.)
The second thing I’d like to point out is that English is not my first language. My active vocabulary is very small compared to my passive one, and when it comes to more complex issues such as sentence structure or advanced grammar, then I’m completely lost. I play by ear. However, I read excessive amounts of English literature. And what I’d like to say with this is that even though I consider myself having a good grasp of the English language, I don’t expect perfection. Therefore, when I’m so bothered by the writing that I can hardly go on – then it’s bad bad bad.
So. What made the writing in Claw of Exile so abysmal?
Well. First there were the “minor” errors. With words being being mis-spelled, not just occasionally, but practically on every single page. But the errors weren’t only of the “I-know-how-it’s-spelled-but-my-finger-slipped-on-the-keyboard”-variety. No, there were loads of errors where a word is exchanged for a similar-sounding/looking one with a completely different meaning.
Vial that should have been vile.
Beacon that should have been beckon.
Seasons that should have been seasoned.
Improvised that should have been impoverished.
Sedated that should have been sated.
Then there was the winner; “Sick-a-fans” which I realized was supposed to be sycophants.
These mistakes were everywhere. Everywhere!
Then there were all these really weird sentences.
“Ryu spat eyes blazing with fury.”
“He jumps to his feet, couching low information.”
“The slums were hulking and decrypted, each building a sorry excuse for infrastructure, cold, depilated, and decaying.”
“Micah captures Ryu’s lament screams with a lude kiss”
“…they clutch their grievous wounds in fright.”
I actually got the feeling that the author over-used a thesaurus but without being able to tell the minor differences in meaning. For example, Ryu’s hips are described as frail. But since he’s a strong and fit fighter, I’m guessing Jones was really looking for a synonym to slim.
The very first thing I noticed however were the crazy jumble of tenses. The story is mainly told in present tense (I think) but there’s such a mix-and-match, often within the same sentence, that it’s actually quite difficult to read.
“Ryu gasps loudly, his wide shoot open, and his back arched off the ground”
It felt like the author tried to write in present tense but kept forgetting herself and often ending sentences in past tense.
So, this is just… really awkward. I feel like J.K. Jones should be a story-teller but have a colleague who does the actual writing.
So with the storyline a 5-star and the writing a 1-star, I guess I’ll rate this at a 3?