Friday, January 10, 2014

The Poison Ring

The Poison Ring by Freddie Remza
(Outskirts Press / 1-478-70541-8 / 978-1-478-70541-3 / May 2013 / 286 pages / $14.95 paperback / Amazon $13.46 / Kindle $6.99)

Let me begin by saying that, as with all my reviews, I have given a considerable amount of thought to my approach before proceeding. There will be technical criticisms in this review that will not appear in the Amazon review because PODBRAM is a place for authors to learn and Amazon is a place to sell books. Rest assured that I am not going to shred The Poison Ring here because it is a very competent effort deserving of the four stars I shall give it at Amazon. However, this book demonstrates several key lessons that I think are pertinent to the PODBRAM audience of fellow authors.

The Poison Ring is obviously a book for Young Adult readers, not for typical adults of all ages, but this fact is not noted on the book's Amazon page. If the prospective buyer checks out the Look Inside, the large print is a hint. I call the storyline Nancy Drew Goes to Nepal. The reading level is simple with lots of short declarative sentences composed in a typical third-person, past-tense style. There is an adequate level of show-don't-tell in the extensive dialog among the characters and the pace of the story is kept brisk to the end. The author is a retired teacher and there are discussion questions at the end. There is another bonus of ten B&W photos from Nepal in the back matter; however, the effect could have been improved by either moving the photos to their respective positions within the text or enlarging them to full-page size, or both. Ms. Remza is attempting to teach her student readers about Nepal and its culture, and she does an adequate job of this with the book. One detail the author missed is that the application of the past perfect tense would have been correct in several instances in the text. The story is told in a straightforward manner and the reader's interest will be held to the end.

This is Freddie Remza's fourth book with Outskirts Press, which brings up several points relevant to the PODBRAM readership. Although my own first four books were published with iUniverse, that is an approximate maximum number for an author to pay many hundreds of dollars to sell a small number of books. It's probably time for Freddie Remza to "graduate" up to CreateSpace. Whether or not the author paid for extra services at Outskirts, The Poison Ring is certainly one of the best proofread POD books I have encountered. Other than a minimum number of typos and the aforementioned tense issue, Freddie's fourth effort is a slick, professional product. If the author can reproduce this quality of work on her own at CS, she could be on her way to making more in royalties than she pays in fees.

The highest compliment I can pay to Ms. Remza is to state that in the genre of YA fiction, this book approaches the quality of that of ex-iUniverse author Dianne Salerni. She's not quite there yet. I think even YA readers could deal with a little more complexity in the plot and sentence structure. Her heart is in the touching zone and the technical quality of the product is commendable.