Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Anthology I: The Other Side by Hamidah Gul

Anthology I: The Other SideTitle: Anthology I: The Other Side
Author: Hamidah Gul
Publisher: Ninety Twenty Publishing
Published: April 20, 2012
Format: Kindle/Ebook 
Pages: 122
Source: Received from the author 
in exchange for an honest review.
Read: October 31, 2012
In A Few Words: Lacking direction, but the ambition is nice
My Rating: 1 star

Goodreads Synopsis:

A collection of stories about things that go bump in the night. Stories about the end of the world, what happens when your wishes come true, and when your emotions become your darkest enemy.

1. The Suicide Case – A story about how three lives are intertwined to balance the scales between good and evil.

2. Come Home with Me – Never invite her to come home with you. She will never leave till you are dead.

3. The Other Side – This story is written in the point of view of one man who witnesses the end of the world.

4. Mission of Mercy – This story is written in the point of view of the one who will end the world. This story is linked to The Other Side.

5. The Best Friend – Ever wondered what your best friend is thinking when she is smiling at you?

6. The Lonely Heart – A young man ponders the end of his life after being rejected by society and family but not everything is what it seems.

7. Mary had a Little Lamb – A young woman who receives a disturbing prophecy that someone she loves will end her life and the desperate measures she takes to keep that from happening.

8. Mother and the Birds - Flash fiction of what a mother wants her son to learn.

9. The Death Star – A story in the voice of a young star looking for his purpose in space and finally finding it.

10. Children of the Mist – Wishes do come true but at what expense? Five young children were given their dreams and now the time has come for them to make a choice whether they want to keep their dreams.

Melissa's Musings:

I read this on Halloween, not purposefully, just because it happened to be the next book in my review request list. I was hoping that it would be a perfect fit, being that it's an anthology of horror stories. I thought it would be the perfect way to be a little spooked on Halloween.

Sadly, I wasn't at all scared by these stories. 

The main issue that I have with these stories is really twofold. One, the stories seem aimless. They lack clear direction. It felt to me as though the author just tried free writing their way through each story without having a clear beginning, middle and end in mind. There's absolutely nothing wrong with free writing to brainstorm, but trying to use it throughout a story just leads to confusion. There's  also not enough details, or story building  to keep readers invested. I found myself trying to fill in a lot of details as I read, and asking a lot of questions as to what the real point of the stories is. Sometimes the characters didn't even have names, when having them would have really helped me to feel some sort of connection to them, especially when the rest of the story seems to meander so much. They seem to focus more on the action and not enough on small, binding details, which, no matter the length of the story, are necessary to make it work.

Of the small details that were included, one was extremely overused. The author set several of the stories in the same place, "Murberry Town". On the whole, the name itself is rather plain, and seeing it pop up again and again in these stories pulled me out of them even further.

Secondly, the writing is poor. There are many instances where the tense switches from past to present and back again within the same sentence. There are a lot of sentences where words are missing in very opportune places. These gaps are enough of a hiccup to make the reader stop to try and figure out what is being said. There are also many spots of confusion regarding common sayings. For example, the author wrote:  "she was beautiful as always, not a hair in place" when what I think they meant to write, "she was beautiful as always, not a hair out of place"

Some of these stories are more on the grisly/disturbing side. One for example, tells the story from the perspective of a dog, watching his owner sleep. He talks about how he wants to touch her, (in a sexual way,) and then he's thinking of eating her for dinner, like some strange kind of animal vs.human, predator-prey battle or something.  But again, there was a strong lack of details that left me feeling slightly grossed out, but otherwise non-plussed.

The author puts brief taglines at the top of the first page of every story, so you can tell by those that the good intentions were present, but the ideas just weren't executed all that well.  I think that these stories do have potential, but they need a lot more work and polish before they become truly creepy.

While I didn't enjoy this collection, it's worth noting that 3 of the 10 selections focus on space and aliens, so it's possible that readers who like those types of stories would enjoy this, or at least those particular stories.

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