Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: Catching Santa





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Catching Santa by Marc Franco

Forget everything you know about Santa, because it is just not true!

When eleven-year-old Jakob's best friends said they didn't believe in Santa, they never expected anything to happen. But when their neighbor, Tiff, tells them of a Christmas curse; Jakob dreams of a man who turns children to wood or coal; and snowmen deliver magic letters to his friends' doors, the children of Central Florida start to wonder what's the truth behind Santa and Christmas.

This book is an amazing first story in a series called The Kringle Chronicles. The plot is completely unexpected and just barely believable; the characters are fairly well created, although there are some 'loose' bits and pieces. I was actually sucked into the story; at many parts I couldn't put it down - for an indie author, that's an achievement!

While the story itself would deserve all five stars, there were some mechanical issues that call out for adjustment. Most were small, isolated incidents - the wrong form of a verb, or mixing up he's and she's. A couple things, though, seemed to stick out through the whole book.

The first problem would be 'big words.' When you consider that the story is being narrated by an eleven-year-old, some words simply don't belong. I think this problem is emphasized by the fact that the kids get a mystery email and have to look up words like 'portly' before they understand the email. Later, though, Jakob - the narrator of the story - uses words like 'hyperactive,' 'disintegrating,' and 'contemplated' without hesitating. These are normal 'book words,' but not normal eleven-year-old words. (Trust me, I have twelve- and nine-year-old brothers.)

Then there was the grammar issue. Throughout the book, run-ons stuck out at me. Granted, an occasional run-on or fragment is necessary in a novel to make the writing sound natural. This, however, was the unnatural sort of thing. While tween boys usually do talk - and probably think - in fragments, it made the writing seem stilted or rushed at times.

Finally, the storyline itself had one problem: it jumped. During an action scene, the readers want to hurry on from one part to the next - they want to see what happens. We do not, however, want to feel like we're reading at a clipped pace. Near the beginning of the book I noticed a lack of transitions, mostly between paragraphs. This did improve as the book progressed, though.

All in all, this was a stellar story that just needs some grammar maintenance. I give it four stars, and I can't wait to get the sequel into my Kindle!

I received this book for free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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