I am reviewing more and more independent authors lately and I have learned a lot about this growing industry. Probably the most important thing I learned is that there is a lot of quality indie books out there at a very accessible price. Internet has brought us a lot of freedom and digital distribution has enabled musicians, movie makers and writers to produce and market their work independently and at low cost. This is great if you ask me and from a reader´s perspective it is a real treat to be able to discover very good talents that might not have been published otherwise.
That been said, it is time to go back to business. The book I am reviewing today is called Leah and the Jackhammer and it was written by Adam Ortyl (you should definitely go and check out his website at http://AdamOrtyl.com). I got to admit, when I first read the title I chuckled and I really didn´t know what to expect. Leah and the Jackhammer? It is definitely a catchy title, I will give it that. The second thing I did was watching the cover and what I saw was basically a drawing of a Big Daddy from Bioshock. That added to my confusion :). In all seriousness, though, this book has far exceeded my expectations. I will say it right now: the book is good, really good.
As for as for the genre this book belongs to, it kind of blurs the line between fantasy and Sci-Fi, having elements of both of them. I had my share of fantasy and Sci-Fi novels and after reading so many of them it has become quite difficult to find something really original. Leah and the Jackhammer was definitely a breath of fresh air, with an unusual story and unique characters. The premises of the settings, on the other end, are not so innovative. For reasons unknown, the world has moved on and the society has lost its grasp on technology. Magic exists, but is a rare gift and ill accepted by the majority of the population. The main protagonists are Leah, who possesses some form of magic, and her talking teddy bear, called Sir Ursa. This presents the author with a unique opportunity, enabling him to soften the overall seriousness of the events by having them recounted from Leah´s innocent perspective. The synergy between Leah and sir Ursa is used to great effect and is particularly interesting since sir Ursa is effectively part of Leah herself. In my opinion Leah serves not only as the main protagonist, but also the main antagonist: the final villain, in fact, is an alternative version of herself. The book narrates Leah´s journey of growth and acceptance of her diversity and it has the quality of a fairy tale.
From the point of view of the author´s writing style, the book is well written and the narrative has a good pacing. It does not feel too short or too long, even though occasionally certain parts are dragged a bit too long. Overall Leah and the Jackhammer is a pleasant experience and I encourage everybody to give this book a go. I loved the atmosphere, the pacing and the originality of this novel. A refreshing new experience in a genre which has become quite derivative in the last few years.
Final comment: a good, original and enticing indie book. Cleverly written. Definitely recommended to fans of Sci-FI and fantasy.
** I received a copy of this book for my blog in exchange of an honest review **