Pros: Picked up a little toward the end
Cons: Where do I start?
Rating: 1 out of 5
Undressed To The Nines (Drew Stirling Book 1), by Jaden Hunter, is billed as a thriller. Drew Stirling is a model who’s accidentally gotten her hands on information that reveals a congressman is doing some very illegal things. She and her photographer, Marc, decide it would be best if she hid out in the country for a while. However, the congressman sends a goon to find them and make sure that information doesn’t get out.
Usually it takes something that truly offends me to make me give a book a 1-out-of-5. This time it’s just the gloriously awful gestalt of the thing. Schadenfreude kicked in or else I don’t think I’d have been able to finish it. I’ll try to take my several pages of notes and distill them down into a few themes, in the interest of not burying you in nit-picky examples.
The dialogue drove me insane. The balance with summary was terrible. There were a lot of conversations that alternated dialogue with dialogue summary all over the place; it was awkward and stilted. It also made it seem like the author was baldly manipulating the conversations–the characters said whatever was necessary to move the plot in the ‘right’ direction, rather than doing things that made actual sense. Someone tells Drew that they’re looking at something that implies that the congressman she just slept with is guilty of illegal things, and she replies “I hate the news.” Not only is that mostly a non sequitur, and a ridiculous way to baldly delay her realization, but it also doesn’t match with what we’ve been told about her (the author went to some pains to assure us that she thinks it’s important to keep up on ‘current events’).
I felt no chemistry between the characters. All of them seemed shallow and stereotyped (it’s hard to ‘feel’ a relationship between characters who have no depth), and Drew was a Mary Sue. The author went to great lengths to tell us that she’s compassionate, empathetic, smart, beautiful, etc. If you have to tell your audience that a character is amazing, you aren’t adequately showing it.
There’s way too much explaining going on. The tiniest two-word replies merit several lines of supposed imbued meaning:
“Drew, honey.” Her mother spoke in a tone of voice that communicated a reminder that she had given birth to Drew. That she’d suffered. That Drew owed her something.
Readers are, by and large, not stupid. Over-explaining everything is assuming your reader is dumb. If you’ve adequately shown what’s going on, you don’t have to turn everything into an info-dump. In a handful of cases it read as though the author had done a bunch of research on various topics and wanted to make sure to convey every last detail. Research should inform your story, not take its place. Research is a good idea when necessary, but the writer needs to use it to make the story believable rather than interrupting every dialogue with paragraphs or whole pages of information.
Toward the beginning there’s information about a bioweapon being worked on. Despite the detail lent to it, it’s nothing more than a macguffin. Any scandal could have taken its place and it wouldn’t have affected the rest of the book in any way. In fact, a somewhat milder scandal would have made more sense given some of the characters’ reactions.
The author starts each chapter with a quote (from Shakespeare to Clive Barker) followed by a quote from one of his characters. This only works if your ability to create quotes from scratch is fantastic. It very baldly puts your quotes up against those from famous people and invites comparison. Unfortunately the author’s made-up quotes lacked punch and didn’t add to the story at all. If the author had given his characters enough depth, he wouldn’t have had to try to add to it with these quotes.
Somehow, Drew’s photographer friend Marc decides that the perfect way to make sure the scandal gets into the news and stays in the news (in order to protect Drew) is to do Drew’s first nude photo shoot and publish it at the same time. Not only is this a ridiculous way to shoehorn nudity into the plot–it could seriously backfire. I’d expect the public to think that the scandal is some sort of publicity ploy to focus attention on her photos. At the very least it wouldn’t be nearly as clear-cut as it’s made out to be.
This book didn’t work for me at all. Hopefully I’ve provided enough information so that you’ll be able to decide for yourself whether these issues would bother you. There’s probably an audience for this somewhere, but it isn’t me.
NOTE: Book provided for review by author