Zero God by Tommy Birk

I got a complimentary copy of this one from the author in exchange for an honest review – thank you very much!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A secretive and influential foundation based in Washington D.C., led by a charismatic charlatan, seeks to bring to fruition an apocalyptic vision of the future based on its extreme religious views. To this end they have placed a ‘Manchurian candidate’ into the political system, one who unbeknownst to them was involved in the rape culture of the Abu Ghraib prison controversy. An emotionally damaged small town lawyer stands in the way of national disaster

My impressions:

My initial interest in the plot (two runners! An earthquake! Divorce! Scandal!) was soon completely drowned by errors and flaws I was encountering practically on any given page. Yes, the sad truth is that I found too many fragments which clearly would profit from a help of an editor, professional or otherwise. Like this one:

„Stump owned and operated the Dubain Courier Journal. He wore his thinning hair in a military crewcut and carried his five feet eight inches with a military bearing. He‘d lost his leg to a landmine in the first Gulf War. He had never married. He said that he was wedded to the newspaper, and that it was his life and reason for living. He had nicknamed Rhonda ‘Tadpole‘ when she walked into the newsroom on her first day.”

Five sentences, some really short, all beginning with the same pronoun, “he”. It sounds like a rough sketch not a description of a character you expect in a decently-written novel. I was actually surprised the author didn’t turn that into bullet points. Do you want more?  Consider that short dialogue:

“Clubby said, “I‘ll be back in a few.”

Billups said, “Another bathroom break, Clubby? Better get your pros­tate checked.”

“No pee break. Just checking on Andy.”

Rhonda said, “Andy?””

The reviewer said (in her head, of course, and not expecting any answer): is there no more verbs in English, apart from “say”, which might be used in dialogues?

To  the list of  sins committed by the author I might also add: over – explaining and gratuitous repetitions, sometimes even in the same sentence (“The Balbach family‘s history of tragedy spawned a peculiar, though understandable, sense of collective Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, on the part of Andy‘s family”) infodumps  (Like the whole Andy Balbach’s family history – too long to quote it here but believe me, rather long and boring to go through), and typos that, inadvertently I presume, rendered the text rather cryptic (“Ten-Cubed did that to you. It scammed your life, sucked your soul, and stole what little god you had left. (…)However, there was more than no more god.” Hmmm…what god again and where it came from? More than no more?).

Mind you I quote here sentences from the first chapters of the novel which are usually reviewed and edited more times than the middle part or the ending.

I dumped the book after 30 pages of torture – I don’t think I deserved even that much.

Final verdict:

Dear Author,

Everybody can write and publish nowadays but not everybody should.  Apart from that, employing a professional editor and/or a proofreader really makes sense.

Kind regards,

Your prospective readers.Rating icon. A stack of books and the words a total failure and an outline of a skull and bones drawn over them.



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8 Responses to Zero God by Tommy Birk

  1. blodeuedd says:

    UGH, that cover

  2. Carole Rae says:

    It is so easy to fall into the “say” category especially if the author doesn’t re-read the work.

  3. heidenkind says:

    Putting dialog tags in front of the quote is just awkward and weird.

  4. Melfka says:

    Ouch. It hurts to even read the review. :/ But I shouldn’t have expected much after seeing the cover: usually, they say “don’t judge the book by the cover” but in a way, in self-publishing, it usually makes sense: a bad cover more often than not means that the author didn’t give much attention to the publishing process as a whole.

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