The Last Overseer

The Last Overseer
by Anton Troia

Rating: 2.75/5

I was asked for an honest review, which is the only kind I can give, so here it goes.

In my opinion, The Last Overseer is another great idea which was just not well executed. I only finished it due to my stubbornness and because I kept hoping it would improve. I had some good surprises and in no way felt obligated to finish it (the author was kind enough to make that very clear) but the fact is it was a long process. I honestly cannot remember taking this long to read a book. Anyway, let’s move on.

Positives:

– I enjoyed the hard sci-fi. The Star Trek references were cute, but I mostly enjoyed the new stuff (at least new to me).

– I enjoyed how the author revisited the vampire and zombie concepts, making them his own, and how the romance part was not too obvious.

– Some concepts were quite ingenious and even refreshing, particularly the mutations of human beings after a natural disaster. I especially liked the descriptions of Charlie’s dreams of a future society, the thought of the government being infiltrated with people who have their own agenda (very current) and the whole being forced to do something against your will thing present in dystopian literature.

– The book succeeds in making you wonder about the planet’s current state. Although it is very futuristic, I couldn’t help but think what would become of it if our natural resources were drained or if a totalitarian government took over.

– It is, in general, a thought provoking book, especially the last chapter, particularly due to the fact that there wasn’t an obvious right or wrong outcome to such a situation.

Negatives:

– The main characters are military and I didn’t get the military feeling at all. I can understand that major Brennan and lieutenant Graham should feel more at ease with each other due to their background together, but I just don’t get the familiarity with the superiors, the way Brennan spoke to them and why he was even allowed to ask certain questions, for instance, especially before he was put on Earth. There should have been more formality in the speech. For the same reason, I don’t understand why military people would refer to someone by their first name, that is, why they would refer to Charlie as Charlie instead of Beasley, his surname. It was all just too casual for my taste.

– The writing is simply not good. I don’t know if it’s a lack of vocabulary issue (though there are plenty of ‘fancy’ words throughout the book), of writing technique, of attention or a combination of all, but these are the things which bothered me the most:

1) A lot of typos, syntax errors, punctuation being off, etc, etc. For instance, wrong verb tenses (I’d frequently see ‘have’ written instead of ‘had’), at times words were missing while at others they were repeated (ex.: Elena still could still not locate Charlie) or stuff like unaware of whether or not he was dead or alive.. Even the characters descriptions contradicted themselves at times. There were many many more, too many to remember, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.

2) A *lot* of repetitions. I remember counting the same word 6 times in a total of 7 lines, or 3 times in one line All he needed was what he needed for his weapon, but there were no signs of any of the supplies he needed in aisle #5.) It was particularly impossible with names. I wonder if the author has something against pronouns.

3) Lack of anticipation; we are immediately fed what there is to know so when it comes later there is no surprise, or certainly a huge decrease in it. A very small example that comes to mind, which obviously didn’t have much effect in the overall experience, but hopefully will give an idea of what I mean: After climbing a steep spiral staircase that led to a catwalk, Brennan felt a sharp pain coming from his left hip joint again. He ascended more steps then he cared to climb, and for a war-scarred major with a replaced hip, the climb was an ordeal. After a minute of climbing, he found himself on a catwalk where large spiders dominated the spaces between the metal. Besides the fact that the then should have been a than, why say in the first place that the staircase led to a catwalk? Why not just let the reader find that out as the narrative flows?

4) This sort of thing often escalated to the point where we would read about something and then a few lines below that something was explained in more detail and very often with the exact same words! As you can imagine, such a narration kills the suspense, cuts the pace, making the book feel like it drags on and on and making it difficult to keep track of the main storyline and what exactly is trying to be told there, leading to an overall lack of cohesion; you are simply reading the same stuff over and over and there isn’t that sense of fluidity that I so enjoy in a good book and leaves me wanting more and see what comes next. On the other hand, some things were not explained at all. I still don’t know how one minute Charlie was receiving a flyer to participate in a rally and the next he was speaking as if he had organized it, or at least there was no mention at all of other people wanting to talk before him. He was basically presented as the leader of it all..
So, in a nutshell, the way each part of the story is presented to the reader is very unappealing and unengaging. Things are not explained in a clear manner. Either there is a lot of repetition or the concept just comes out of the blue, with no explanation whatsoever. This also caused me not to feel connected to any of the characters. They just felt… off.

All in all, there just seemed to be a lack of attention when writing and editing. Actually, I often wondered if the book was edited at all, because it wasn’t one or two examples, it was all over the book. It usually takes me 3 to 4 days to read a book. This one took me 13. Even when the storyline picked up the pace and was pretty engaging, I would come across some of the things I mentioned and my brain just hiccupped; I kept having to go back and forth trying to make sense of things and not succeeding most of the times, which completely ruined the memento. After a while, I was so frustrated that I just stopped trying and trudged on.

I think that if the book was properly edited it would be about 3/4 or at least 4/5 of its current size and would have a tremendous impact. If it is possible to do so much work to it, I think it could be a great read. If that happened, I would be happy to read the new edition. I would most likely give it 4, maybe even 5 stars, because the concepts really are intriguing. As it is, even though some aspects kept me interested, at the end of the day it was just not a positive experience. I am giving it 3 stars instead of 2 mostly because of the last chapter. Even though it was just as heavy, I enjoyed it more than the entire book.

Read from September 15 to 28, 2014
GR Review

I would like to thank the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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