Friday, December 16, 2016

Book Review: Red Death by Jeff Altabef

Welcome to a Novel Publicity Tour! Today, I'm helping Jeff Altabef launch his new book Red Death!


Novel Publicity has been with Jeff from the start, and they love helping him launch his latest titles. He and his daughter just finished launching the last of The Chosen series, Scorched Souls, and now it's time for something new!

To celebrate, there are prizes, an exclusive interview, an excerpt, and more! Check it all out below.

About Red Death
What happens when everything you believed turns out to be a lie?

Every child of Eden fears the Red Death. All those afflicted with the plague die young, their souls stripped away as punishment for ancient sins long forgotten. For centuries, Guardians have protected Eden from the Red Death by killing outsiders who stray too close.

Seventeen-year-old Aaliss is a highly-trained Guardian, but when her rather odd thirteen-year-old brother, Wilky, discovers a cure to the plague, her world turns upside down. Branded as traitors by the corrupt High Priest, Aaliss and Wilky are forced to seek refuge in the last place Aaliss thought she'd ever go—beyond the boundaries of Eden and into the land of the Soulless. Here they must navigate a medieval world filled with witches, magic, and warrior kingdoms run by Elders only a few years older than her.

Aaliss yearns to return home, but when her heart tugs her deeper into the world of the Soulless, she questions everything she once believed. Has her soul been taken? Will she and Wilky fall victim to the Red Death, or might they die sooner in the center of a battle that threatens to tear apart the Soulless world? Or... might Aaliss finally find, against all odds, what her heart has yearned for all along?

About the Author
Jeff Altabef is an award-winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres.

In the young adult genre, Jeff co-authored The Chosen Trilogy with his teenage daughter, Erynn. The Chosen Series has won multiple awards including the 2015 Readers' Favorite Gold Medal for Best Coming of Age Novel, the 2015 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best YA Fiction, and a Mom's Choice Award. 

As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those who like telling stories.

You can connect with Jeff on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

My Review
For me, Red Death is a mixed bag. There wasn't anything significantly wrong with it, but it didn't hold my attention like I wanted. As I read, I enjoyed most of the story, but there was a lot packed into such a short span of pages and I wasn't left satisfied.

First, there are a lot of characters. Too many characters. I couldn't keep everybody straight. Chapters flip back and forth between all of the different point of views, even unimportant, minor-minor characters. It was messy and confusing. Some of it was unnecessary. I also had a hard time connecting to any of the characters. There were moments when the characters did great things or possessed great qualities, but it never felt consistent.

Second, the plot is complicated. Like I said earlier, there is a lot packed into this novel. It's complex with a lot of ideas woven together and interconnected, which is great. But the execution of the ideas fell flat. I couldn't keep all the different tribes and groups straight. There was a lot of moving from one place to another, trying to weave these characters' lives together, and it was hard to enjoy.

Third, the world-building was mediocre. I could see the potential of this world and the setting and the intricacies of the people and places, but it didn't pan out. I didn't care about the main characters' quest when I couldn't focus on where I was or what this world meant. It was hard to tell if this was supposed to be a future earth stuck in a dystopian-esque world or if it's a fictional world with a dystopian society. It felt as if it was trying to be both at the same time. I wish the author would have slowed down to let the world (and plot) flourish. I wanted to know more about the firefoxes or the weird killer ant things. I wanted to know more about the tribes and their practices, about Eden and the leaders and how it all came to be. (Also, what was with the ostrich suits? That's a super weird option for material and where do they even get the ostriches? Yeah, this detail isn't pivotal for the story, but it makes me wonder and I want to know the answer.)

However, Red Death did do some things right also. For one, it wasn't your typical dystopian story. It didn't have the same exact plot as every YA dystopian since The Hunger Games. It was different, unique, intriguing. It also created this entire new world that has a lot of potential for future books. Maybe in this one it didn't explore as deeply as I would have liked, but that doesn't mean it can't later. There is definitely more to this story. And finally, it kept me guessing. Some things may have been predictable or cliche, but there was a lot that happened that I wasn't expecting. There were moments I though "That won't happen." or "He'll be okay." But I was wrong. The author was willing to take risks and shake the story up to keep the readers guessing. I admire that.

Overall, Red Death wasn't the book for me. But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed. If you're looking for a quick, simple, and clean read with a interwoven plot and a different kind of dystopian world, give Red Death a chance. You might be surprised by how it all turns out.

Exclusive Interview
Novel Publicity asked author Jeff Altabef three questions that you won’t see anywhere else besides this tour. Read below!

NP: Thanks for offering some extra questions for our bloggers Jeff! First, what’s your favorite meal and drink?

JA: Coffee and chocolate! I'm not sure what that says about me. My favorite time to write is in the morning so coffee is a no-brainer. My mind can't start to function without my first cup of Joe. I also like to write in coffeehouses from time to time when I need a little more energy and can feed off of those around me. So when in Rome!

I have a pumpkin stuffed with tootsie rolls on my desk. It's a terrible habit that I quit from time to time, but it keeps coming back.  I just grabbed another one!  I'd like to say my favorite writing food is something healthy like kale, but I won't lie, and I hate kale!

NP: Some of our staff have a love hate relationship with chocolate and coffee too! I bet that’s pretty common with our bloggers too. Now, the next question is tough, but do your best! Who was your favorite character to write in Red Death?

JA: This is such a hard question to answer. I really feel such a close connection to all of these characters, that choosing one is a bit of a "Sophie's Choice." I loved to write Piers. I thought he was such a deep character and certainly Aaliss was a lot of fun. She's a really strong character that most people love. The Viper and the High Priest were also a lot of fun. I always love dwelling on the nasty characters, but my favorite character to write was probably Wilky. I did a bunch of research before starting to make sure I captured someone with his condition just right. In many ways, he's the real hero of the series. Now I feel bad that I didn't mention Eamon or P'mina. Argh!

NP For such a tough question you did a really good job of explaining why so many characters in Red Death are loveable. Last but not least, and it may be another head-banger...who are your favorite authors?

JA: This is a tough question too! I love a wide variety of genres. Really everything from thrillers (Dean Koontz), to historical fiction (Bernard Cornwell), to mysteries (Jonathan Kellerman) and even horror  (Steven King). In the young adult genre I really like the characters Sarah J. Maas writes in the Glass Throne series. They come across as strong and memorable. I absolutely loved the End of Days series by Susan Ee. Her dystopian world and the use of angels was totally brilliant. I love the first person voice Joelle Charbonneau writes in the Testing Trilogy. She was a huge help when writing the Chosen Trilogy. Still, if I had one writing wish and could write like anyone, I'd choose Christopher Moore. He makes writing funny characters and situations seem effortless. I love his books!

Wow, those are some really interesting authors, and definitely diverse. I bet you’ve introduced our readers to some great new authors! Thanks again for doing our interview Jeff!

You can sign up to Jeff Altabef’s newsletter and get a FREE short story.

Excerpt from Red Death

Chapter 5 – Eamon
Eamon studied the faces around the campfire, worry etched on his own as he wondered whether this would be the last time they would all gather together. He sat between his two older brothers, King Dermot and Prince Fintan. Dermot had lived six winters more than Eamon had, and Fintan one, yet he was the planner and worrier. Often he wished he could be more like them, but he never stopped fretting about tomorrow, the next season, the next winter. All the council members, twelve in total, joined them this night, forming a loose circle around a campfire that had started to lose its intensity. They met in the Courtyard, in the middle of the Stronghold, a small city protected by a sturdy stone wall. The Stronghold stood in the center of Dermot’s kingdom between the Outpost to the north and the Settlement to the south.

When Eamon realized everyone had stopped talking and were looking at him, he remembered what they had been discussing. “We’ll have to slaughter more cattle this year. The tribe’s grown since last winter.” The answer was obvious to him.

“The herd’s also added numbers this year, my Lord,” added Keenan, the Cattle Master. Built broad and strong like a steer, he had been Cattle Master for three years, and Dermot trusted him. “I reckon we could cull the herd by another twenty over last year and still maintain the size.”

All eyes turned toward Dermot. His reign had already lasted six years, almost an eternity. The Sword of Power lay across his lap, a long sword so heavy that it required two hands to wield it in battle. Its blade gleamed in the firelight, and the many rubies in the gold and silver hilt sparkled brilliantly. An inscription, written in a language no one understood, ran down both sides of the blade and glimmered in the firelight. The smithies could no longer make a weapon like the Sword of Power. That knowledge had been lost. They made other swords, fine ones, victorious ones, but none so grand. Only the King could wield the Sword of Power, the tribe’s finest.

Giveaway and More
Check out these great prizes from author Jeff Altabef, including a six month Kindle Unlimited Subscription! Did you know we offer exclusive reviewer prizes for tours just like this one? Want in on it? Sign up to Novel Publicity's Newsletter for more great review opportunities!


Advanced Praise for Red Death
Not sure if Red Death is for you? Take a look at this advanced praise from MidWest Book Reviews and The US Review.

“Red Death will appeal to a wide audience since it has something for everyone. It's action-packed, with plenty of chases and fights for those who enjoy adventures and drama. There are enough twists to surprise those who are intrigued by political intrigue, suspense, and cliffhangers. Amid kingdoms to unite, princes to save, and lives on the line, there is also a playful romance sprinkled throughout for those who desire some lightheartedness.” Maria A. Hughes, The US Review

"...[A] thought-provoking saga about belief systems and religion, courage, adaptability, greed and goals of ruling humanity, and a seemingly juggernaut of change that rolls over everyone in its path....[P]erfect for readers who appreciate the complex worlds and feisty protagonists of The Hunger Games and similar novels."  Pick of the Month for November, Midwest Book Review

You can add Red Death to Goodreads and buy a copy on Amazon.

~I was given a free copy of Red Death through Novel Publicity in exchange for an honest review.~

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for your very detailed an honest review! Even though it wasn't the book for you, I think you did a great job of discussing who it might be great for :)

    ReplyDelete