Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lot's Return to Sodom—Sandra Brannan (2011)

I looked forward to reading Brannan's sequel to In The Belly of Jonah. While I experienced disappointment in the early chapters, the author saved my interest by giving me several characters to shift my expectation of guilt.

Brannan weaves language well, created a good character, but the writer in me screams to say, this could have been a much better novel. One of the reasons I'm holding out for traditional publishing, for the support the writer gets to polish a work.

The copy editing of Sodom was again excellent, but the developmental editing was weak. While the casual reader will be satisfied with this novel front to back, I felt there were too many situational clichés and contradictions a good editor would have cleaned up. Example: From the other side of a loud bar Liv hears her brother order a specific kind of beer, only to have to shout in his ear a moment later to be heard. As I said, the casual reader probably won't be irritated by those kinds of things. It's easy for the writer to miss them in a self-edit. But these should have been caught by the subsequent editor.

On the early chapters, I feel Brannan tried to live to the writing rule, "Start when the story starts." The way she did it however, made it feel like background that should have been weaved bit by bit within the story. The first fifteen chapters could have been scrapped, in my less-than-humble opinion.

In Jonah I complained about the head jumping. Ditto with Sodom. A good story doesn't even have to have much of a plot if we care about the protagonist. Driving so much of the story from different characters' point of view weakened my buy-in for the protagonist. Was that Liv, or Streeter?

The slight that slapped me about the head and shoulders as a writer: telling me over and over what I already knew.

I am unsure I would read another Brannan novel. I expected the sequel to be better than the first. The plot was more sophisticated, but I tired of the dialog and telling. I needed to be shown a story.

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Working on novel number nineteen!


  1. Hi Mac,
    I see U R still looking 4 an agent. Why not check out:
    Good luck!

  2. Nice review. I knew you'd finish the book before I did!

    Now I need to finish it.

  3. Hi Claudia--Thanks for the note. I saw them highlighted in the WD blog the other day, but haven't gotten around to querying them for anything yet. They take on F and thrillers, so they WILL get a query ;O)

    JC -- I'm going to be counting the days. Let's get reading.