Welcome to the August edition of the Stellar Review, the place where I offer my thoughts on the work of indie authors or artists.
This month, I am reviewing Seeing Through Samson’s Eyes by Pamela Canepa at the request of the author.
This book is the second instalment of what is currently a trio of novellas available from Pamela. I hadn’t read the first story before I dived into this one but to be honest, it wasn’t a prerequisite as the necessary points of the backstory are laid out for the reader.
The story is set between 2053 and 2056 in a future where androids in realistic human form live amongst the population. They have jobs and social lives but are far from free since they are owned by human masters and treated as little more than slaves. The novella follows Norrie and her mother, Abrielle, along their very different personal journies following the death of Samson – Abrielle’s husband and Norrie’s father.
The book opens with Abrielle and her daughter meeting Jefre, the recipient of Samson’s donated eyes. We discover that along with the eyes he also received some of Samson’s memories, an occurrence he was warned could happen. When Abrielle and Norrie turn up at his door, Jefre’s initial reaction is to send them away and not explore the link she offers him to this new world in his head. How exciting is this opening? The promise of this plot unfolding piqued my interest, I was eagerly looking forward to reading about these two characters as they struggled against the constraints of their lives to be together – he’s married but dreaming of Abrielle and she’s driven by grief to make a connection to this man who keeps a piece of her beloved Samson alive – after all, the title led me to believe that the book would be about this storyline. Imagine my disappointment when this storyline just fizzled away into nothingness.
The story quickly hops to a second thread following Norrie as she searches for her biological parents. This is where my uneasiness with the story started to creep in. Norrie found her father through protected records via various means then met him, revealed who she was and convinced him to introduce her to his mother within the space of a few minutes with no protests. The editor in me is screaming about the lack of conflict here, it was all to easy. In a similar way to the Jefre storyline above, this one just dies away, never to be mentioned again. I was left wondering why the author included this in the novella at all if it served no real purpose to the big finish. I was expecting something to crawl out of the woodwork later on, but sadly not.
The third story thread follows Norrie as she tries to understand more about the androids, their plight, and the life that Samson was trying hard to avoid during his existence. This thread sets up the third book in the series and introduces characters that you will need to know if you go on to read it.
There were a few things that niggled me (in addition to the above) that I feel obliged to voice in my capacity as a reviewer. The book jumps between Norrie and Abrielle chapters which as a storytelling method is fine, however, these chapters are both written in the first person which I found so confusing. I really had to concentrate to make sure my brain was following whose head I was in and I often had to start a chapter again upon realising I’d got it wrong. The dialogue also feels unrealistic at times, I couldn’t help feeling that people really wouldn’t speak to each other like these characters do in their situations and so this played on my mind as I was reading through. I also don’t think the book has benefited from a professional editor or the many grammatical and continuity errors present would have been fixed before publication.
Let’s be truthful here, this review is just my opinion, another reviewer might see a completely different spin on the points I’ve raised. I always feel terrible when I speak about things I feel let a book down so I need to give credit where credit is due. I absolutely love the concept of this story, androids living amongst humans, almost undetectable in their human skin. The scope to explore the fallout from memories being transplanted along with organs is mouthwatering. The author’s imagination of the future is also superb, small details are scattered through the pages to remind the reader they are forty years into the unknown, from self-wrapping seat belts to armchairs that hug you back – brilliant touches.
We all take different things from the stories we read, the Amazon reviews for this book have been very favourable so I’ve come to the conclusion that I am reviewing books with the eye of an author who knows how to structure stories and novels and not from the perspective of someone who just wants to enjoy a good yarn! What I do know is that when I read a book I look for a satisfying ending, I need that ‘ahhh’ moment as I close the book, knowing that I leave the characters in a better situation than the ones we’ve lived through together for the past few hundred pages. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that with Seeing Through Samson’s Eyes. I was left wondering what the story was actually about as I switched of my iPad, I can’t help thinking that the author should have concentrated on one main storyline and brought that to a satisfactory conclusion.