Judgment Day

The rumors are true. We’ll read anything here at SuperheroNovels.com. If a book features a protagonist who wears a cape and cowl, we’ll pick it up. We don’t exclude self-published novels from our reading queue. We’re an inclusive bunch.

But we’re acutely aware that self-published novels are wildly unpredictable. We’re all for the freedom and singular vision that indie publishing provides, but we firmly believe that rigorous editorial guidance inevitably produces better work. We’ll continue to read self-published books, but we remain convinced that traditional publishing methods (including slush pile gatekeepers) provide a service to both the author and the reader.

Which brings us to the novel Karis, by R.M. Strong. It’s a typical self-published affair, full of boundless enthusiasm and potential. But like similar books, is ultimately defeated by clumsy, immature writing.

It’s about a teenage girl who sees her family gunned down by a Dr. Psycho-like supervillain. Later, she dons a triple-weave Kevlar bodysuit and a facemask and seeks revenge and/or peace of mind. The author borrows freely from the familiar Batman mythos and even introduces a Superman stand-in at some point. In a way, she’s creating her own World’s Finest universe. Which is cool.

Unfortunately, the novel struggles to find a balance between dialog, action, summary, and exposition. It’s also a novel that pushes a personal theological agenda that is (sincere, but) disruptive. In the end, every mistake in this book could have been avoided had the author sat down with a professional editor and suffered the scrutiny of craft and style.

First novels are meant to be celebrated and quickly forgotten. And that’s the case here. We appreciate the author’s commitment to her muse, but Karis is not so much a complete novel as it is a manuscript still in progress. Hopefully we’ll see better things from the author in the future.

[Karis / By R.M. Strong / First Printing: December 2011 / ISBN: 978-1468150209]

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