This is not that Hush, Hush, the crappy YA angel romance novel by Becca Fitzpatrick which, from the reviews I have read, seems to be -- unbelievably -- even worse than Twilight both in terms of writing and in terms of vile "creepy pedophile stalkers who are also abusive control freaks are totes romantic!" messages. I know, I have trouble believing it myself, but since I could barely get through a few chapters of Twilight, I don't think I'm even going to try skinning my eyes on an even worse trainwreck.
No, this time I went cruising on Authonomy, which is basically a great big online slushpile, but unlike FictionPress and a zillion LJ communities, Authonomy is backed by an actual publisher (Harper Collins), so with their rating system there is supposedly a miniscule chance that if enough people like what you post, it might get looked at by an actual editor who might be interested in actually publishing you.
I decided to conduct a very scientific random sampling: I clicked on the first title that caught my eye. Since my first thought when I saw Hush Hush was, "Oh, this would explain a lot," that's the title I clicked on. But it turned out to have nothing to do with the aforementioned book. Instead, it's literary historical fiction. It is described thusly:
Molly O'Connor leads a normal life until the dramatic events of a night out shape her life forever.
After a night out with some friends Molly is attacked. With the events of that fateful night locked away in her memory bank Molly vows to try to forget about the past and move on with her life, however months later Molly discovers that she is pregnant, a terrifying situation for a sixteen year old to find herslf in, especially in a strong Catholic Ireland in the 1930's. As a result Molly's relationship with her family are put to the test, none more so than with her brother Donal.
Meanwhile with the war raging through Europe and the birth of her son Molly is plunged into a whirlwind of terror and depression, however a surprise awaits her.
This is a highly emotional novel that will have you smiling one minute and reaching for the hankies the next!!
Oh, dear. Yet another book where the author couldn't even write a grammatically correct summary. And that's a really awful summary, grammatical errors aside. I could write a page of crits just picking apart each sentence.
What fascinated me, however, were the reviews. Now, surely we're all familiar with the phenomenon of shitty fan fiction stories getting ten bajillion reviews because "OMGUrDracoHarmione fic is SOOO cuuuteee!!SQUEEE!1!!!!!1!!!!" But you'd think readers with some pretensions of being literary-minded adults with serious writing ambitions of their own would be just a tad more... discriminating? Alas, you'd think wrongly.
This is like an Angela's Ashes only better! You are certainly a talented writer and this is polished to perfection. It is obvious you have spent much time energy passion and research on this novel. backed with pleasure.
Michelle, I read this BEAUTIFUL story cover to cover...It was both painful and hopeful and contained many life lessons that I think people will take with them. You have a very soft yet strong voice. Your main characters felt like the neighbors next store and your family could be anyone's family which added to the strength of this amazing story.
It was heartfelt and truthful and extremely moving and I will say my prayers as always before bed and give thanks, as in your story we never know what life has in store but we can only hope that whatever it is we will handle it with grace, understanding and kindness....
Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift...Backed 1000 % Patricia aka Columbia Layers of the Heart
I have just finished this entire book and I must say it has been one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read!! Well done to the author you have created a BESTSELLER!! Excellent story line very striog characters and such a wonderful ending!!
And so on. In the first page of reviews, I saw exactly one person who left a critical comment, and he got jumped on for being a negative meany-pants.
Okay, so maybe the summary is misleading. Maybe this really is a literary gem.
Here is the first paragraph:
I felt myself shiver and pulled the blanket closer to my body in a bid to block out the chilly air. The weather had been so cold for early spring. It felt more like a winter’s morning. Curling my body into a ball I desperately attempted to get back to sleep, however, it was useless. I knew I would have to get out of bed again. My stomach was churning as a wave of sickness surged through me. I groaned at the thought of wasting valuable sleep time, I enjoyed my sleep too much and could feel myself getting irritated at the thought of having to get up once more.
This is not promising, but not horribly written. Just somewhat badly written. Repetitive and dull, our opening paragraph, besides starting with the main character waking up (which any contemporary book about writing will tell you is a bad idea unless you're so fucking brilliant you're one of those special snowflake authors who can get away with breaking all the rules meant for lesser writers -- which you aren't), just goes on and on about how... it's cold, and she's waking up.
I steeled myself, threw the blankets aside and swung my legs out of the bed. My bare feet felt the icy chill of the floorboards as I stood. I tiptoed past my sister trying my utmost best not to waken her. Sensing her stir I knew it was too late, the noise of the damn floorboards had startled her. It was a wonder I had not wakened the whole house with the squeaky creaks of the old, battered wood beneath my feet.
Phrases like "trying my utmost best" are why another one of those basic writing rules is "Cut any unnecessary adjectives and adverbs." And again, a repetitive paragraph.
‘Is that you Molly?’ Sadie rubbed her eyes in the darkness and sat upright in her bed. ‘What’s the matter with you?’ Sadie whispered as she observed the shadowy stature of her sister slump across the room, barely making out her figure in the darkness.
Wait a minute -- Molly is her sister, right? And the first-person narrator. Who is suddenly referring to herself in the third person. And she's describing what her sister can "barely make out," which means the author is breaking POV here in all kinds of ways. The first two paragraphs were just kind of mediocre, but this is bad, bad, amateurish writing.
I did not answer. My only goal was to get out of her sight as quickly as possible. Swiftly I made my way downstairs and out to the wooden hut at the end of the garden to our toilet. It was here that I was violently sick. My delicate body trembled from both the cold and the sickness. I tried to clean my mess up as best as I could, which wasn’t easy considering that we had no running water. My sixteen year old body felt weak and exhausted. I managed to make my way back to bed hoping that the curious Sadie had fallen back to sleep.
Okay, why would she even think about running water since they didn't have it? She thinks of her body as delicate? And why is she trying to clean vomit out of an outhouse? (Which I don't think she'd call a toilet.)
To my dismay I could vaguely see her outline still sitting upright just as she was before I left the bedroom.
‘Are you all right Molly?’ She queried through the gloomy air.
Oh dear, I see at least three howlingly bad stylistic errors and one grammatical error in the above two sentences. How about you?
‘Aye, I’m grand.’ I answered sternly, rolling my eyes knowing that Sadie could not see my grim facial expression.
The author seems to be getting more adverb- and adjective-happy as she goes along.
‘You don’t sound too grand to me. I’ve heard you up early the last few mornings. You need to see a bloody doctor. You’re looking terribly pale lately as well. Perhaps you’ve a stomach ulcer or something like that, that sickness isn’t good, something’s up.’ Sadie barged. Although I could not see her clearly in the dim room I felt her eyes penetrating me.
"Barged"? Her eyes "penetrated" her? And I believe that in the 1930s, "bloody" was a pretty bloody strong word for a nice Catholic girl to be using.
I read the rest of the chapter. It repeats all the above errors, plus inserting a long, unnecessary infodump right in the middle of the narrative.
So, no surprise, a random selection from a slushpile sucks, and that's an hour of my life (including writing this) that I'll never get back. Okay, back to trying to get some writing of my own done.
Verdict: Fail, though I'm going to say that for something available for free, it doesn't fail quite as hard as The Pack.