Thursday, 21 January 2010

Lines of Neutrality: SB Jung


Lines of Neutrality is a window into the lives of two modern-day assassins—Raven Yin and Christian Delacroix. Unbeknownst to either of them, they are both hired to kill the same mark and coincidentally choose the exact same night and time to strike. This begins a chain of events that brings Raven and Christian together to fight a war far larger and more complex than either of them could have imagined. It is a war being waged against secret societies whose agendas are more enigmatic than their rumoured existence.

Their personalities and methods are fundamentally different, yet each of them discovers more about themselves by studying the other. Despite secret societies, internal betrayal, stolen memories and personal battles, Raven and Christian defy the odds to show that the Society of Assassins is nobody's pawn.

S. B. Jung has been an English teacher since 2002. She has been writing plays, poems, and novels since 1997; Lines of Neutrality is her first published work. Her husband Matthew and son Aiden have been her strength, encouragement, and inspiration as she continues to write and create more worlds for readers to enter and enjoy.

SB Jung is a writer with real promise and Lines of Neutrality: Book One of the Assassin Chronicles has an interesting premise. Her text is lovely and clean, her grammar is pretty much spot-on, and I found that the pages of this book turned with a very pleasing swiftness: but despite all that, only read as far as page seventeen.

The problems I found were, for the most part, small and easy to correct: for example, the appendix is the first thing I found after the dedication page but the information it provides is confusing when presented here—it would have been much better placed at the back of the book; the cover design is unprofessional, and not terribly attractive; and the text on that front cover is blurry, slightly out of focus, and is in a font which really isn't clear enough. The copy on the back cover needs attention too: it's a little confused, a little cliched, and in places doesn't quite make sense.

Moving on to the main text, then, I found a few quibbles which a decent edit would almost certainly resolve: there were some contradictions and lapses of logic which caused me to pause and rethink, and so spoilt the flow as I read. But the biggest problem that I had was that while this text is far more fluent and absorbing than most of the books I've reviewed here, it is still quite clearly the work of a novice writer—a talented and potentially very capable one, but still a novice.

I'd like to see what Ms Jung's writing becomes when she's written, and read, a great deal more. I have the feeling she could turn out to be competent and productive, and that in the years to come she might well produce books which are far superior to this good-but-flawed beginner’s effort.


Marian said...

I checked the book out on Amazon and read a few randomly chosen pages. The story was pretty good, but the colons and semi-colons seemed a bit... academic, for lack of a better word.

And the paragraphs were on the long side, even in a tense situation like an assassin trying to get his target in the crosshairs and then being foiled by another assassin.

I like the story and the author's style otherwise, and would probably have kept on if it was a smoother read.

Suthiratana said...

Hello, this is the author, and I was told I could make my comments here. Hopefully, no one will mistake them for complaining or whining. It's going to be long, so I apologize in advance for the length of the comment.

Positives first: Thank you for the review, Jane. I have been following your blog since I first encountered it and expected nothing less than your honesty. Anything else would be a sham. The positive comments you made are a confidence booster I do not take for granted.

Comments and Questions

- For the cover, I made the choice because I just did not trust the iUniverse team to do what I asked without a lot of hassle. The artwork is at least the idea of what I wanted, though not industry standard. If I could have found someone who knew industry standard without asking and arm and a leg, I would have willingly done that.

- For the back copy, it is much better than what I had first given iUniverse to work with. I am still learning about how to do all this. Comments on proper summaries for the back cover are greatly appreciated.

- If I could possibly be given some of the "contradictions and lapses of logic" caught. I would love to be able to bank the knowledge as I continue to write the series.

- Any other miscellaneous "quibbles which a decent edit would almost certainly resolve" that do not fall into the previous category would also be appreciated. I love my novel, but that doesn't mean it is perfect yet. It has come a long way from where it started - it can walk along further, I'm sure.

- Jane, I seem incapable of linking anything on the internet. How can I link your blog review to my Amazon listing? If you don't know the answer, I'm sure I can bug all the tech people I know until I annoy them enough to do it for me. However, I think it would be a valuable thing for me to learn.

- To Marian: Thank you so much for checking out the book! Your positive comments are also greatly appreciated. I have to laugh at your label of my "academic" use of colons and semi-colons. I had to take some deep breaths now and again to stop myself. It was more formal.
If it is of any consolation to you, the formal aspect was for the female character, who loosens up a little through her interactions with the male character. However, she starts off formal and more cold because that is who I started her out to be.
The long paragraphs, honestly, were completely different in manuscript form, and due to my newness to publishing, thought it was just a natural thing that happened when turning a word document into the book format. I will keep that in mind for future reference.

That is all. Thank you for your comments and attention.

- S.B. Jung

Jane Smith said...

Don't worry, SB, I've not forgotten about you: I'm snowed under with my own, paid-for work at the moment, which has to be given priority. I'll get back to you, and this thread, as soon as I have a little more time. I hope that's ok.