Review by Elizabeth Jasper
Title: Trial #1322
Author: Ryan Butcher
The premise for this books is original and well-planned. The main setting for the story is an anonymous and rather spartan hospital reminiscent of those found in the middle of the last century, but with a few modern concessions such as internet connection, a pool room and mobile phone reception. A sense of menace permeates the building, giving the reader an uneasy feeling of something not quite right. Very good indeed.
Pacing is mainly good, but with a slightly flat section when some of the participants leave the drug trial, leaving the three main characters, Laura, Natalie and Jason to continue with it on their own. The build up to the finale, which is extremely fast paced, is very good, with dramatic and violent action that will keep readers on the edge of their seats right to the end of the book.
Characterisation is good, enabling the reader to understand the relationships between the main characters and their interactions with supporting characters that enter, then leave the story. The protagonists have the usual characteristics normally attributed the young adults in their twenties. You can believe in their motivations and actions and while initially they are not particularly sympathetic characters, by the end of the story they have developed considerably. The way Ryan Butcher gradually discloses the antagonists in the story is subtle and very clever. The reader is kept guessing who and what the antagonists are almost to the end. Tensions between the main characters themselves are realistic and well-portrayed, their internal thoughts and feelings are clearly shown throughout the narrative.
Writing style and content
Ryan Butcher’s writing style is punchy and hard-hitting with no flowery descriptions whatsoever, which is perfectly suited to the themes explored in the book. Dialogue is natural and appropriate for the age and circumstances of the characters.
Point of View
Although Ryan Butcher assures me that he wants to keep his to his current POV strategy, points of view are not clearly delineated throughout the book making it necessary to re-read certain passages to discover who is speaking or through whose eyes we are seeing the scene. In my view this is the most serious issue with this book. It would be much easier for the reader if scenes are seen through the POV of one character only and it would help enormously if he could leave at least one blank line
or indicate POV/scene changes by using
between the various POVs.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation
Although the story is set in London, quite a few Americanisms are used throughout the narrative. For example, ‘stomped’, ‘engaged in a chat with her crush’, ‘Gee, thanks.’ ‘Bang of sorrow’. Nothing major, but it does grate a little. There are quite a few typos and towards the end of the book there are sentences that do not make sense. This is a relatively minor editing issue and it should be possible to edit without taking the book down from Amazon.
This is a really original thriller with some excellent writing, particularly the interaction between the various characters and the build up to the exciting and explosive climax. I enjoyed the read very much indeed and it would not take too much for this book to reach the standard required for inclusion in the Awesome Indies catalogue. In it’s present state, however, it doesn’t meet the requirements for the list.