Friday, April 8, 2022

Review: BREACH OF PEACE by Daniel Greene

Rating: 1.75/5 stars

I've been watching Daniel Greene's YouTube channel for the past four years. He's a reader and critical reviewer of fantasy novels, so when I heard he was releasing his own fantasy novella, I was interested in checking it out. Daniel is great at picking apart books, explaining what worked and what didn't, and what he would like to see improve in future installments of a series. Knowing how well he reviews books, I expected him to take some of those suggestions he's keen to give other authors and apply them to his own book. Well . . . that's not the case here. Honestly, this feels like the kind of story that, if written by someone else and given to Daniel to read, he would not rate or review very highly, just based on what I know about how he reviews books from watching his channel. 

Breach of Peace is not a fantasy, as I was expecting it to be—it's a gritty crime drama mystery with some paranormal elements. The story opens on a scene of a gruesome murder of an entire family and the detective crew trying to figure out what happened. 

This novella definitely has that debut feel. The story tries to have some mysterious elements to pull the reader along, and the characters seem to be distinct from one another and have a little depth to them, although I thought every single character was unlikeable except for Khlid, and I'm not sure that this was Daniel's intention. 

Unfortunately, most of this book didn't work for me. I'm not trying to be mean here, just honest in my review. 

I thought it was kind of weird that everyone had normal (non-fantasy) English names, except for our protagonist Khlid. I've never heard that name before, and there's nothing wrong with it on its own, but it doesn't seem to fit with the likes of Chapman, Samuel, or Rollins. Either make all the names fantastical, or all the names not. Another thing was the numerous editing errors I encountered throughout the story. I noticed many improper apostrophes, illegal semicolons, and incorrect ellipses, among other details here and there. Nothing too egregious, but editor-me noticed it all and was bothered by it all. 

I also didn't care for the general writing style. I'm a reader that is really drawn to an author's writing style, but there was really nothing here to make the words stand out. The writing was straightforward with no frills. Nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't my preferred style.  

My main complaint about the story, though, is its lack of worldbuilding. I know this novella is short and therefore has limited page time for worldbuilding, but I feel like there was next to nothing about the setting of this book. No descriptions of the city or the Empire, geographically or politically, and no indication of what time period this takes place in. The most I could gather was that this novella is set in its own world apart from ours—likely why I've seen it labeled as a fantasy. What I really wanted more information on, even more than the setting, was the rebels. I have no idea after finishing this book who the rebels are or what they stand against or whether they serve the Almighty or really anything about them; they are just some vague enemy that Khlid has to deal with. I'm assuming these answers will come in the second book since its title is Rebel's Creed, but I can't say for certain. 

What I do know is that this novella needed more depth to the story. The plot was pretty straightforward, and a certain reveal at the end was heavily foreshadowed early on to the point that the reveal felt obvious and lackluster rather than surprising, which was disappointing. I also think that the paranormal element felt out of place here, which is a little sad because it seems that the sequel will lean more heavily into that. It just wasn't introduced early enough or concretely enough that it felt like a natural part of the story. I think Breach of Peace would have worked better had it leaned more into the fantastical, or removed those elements completely and had just been a crime mystery. 

Breach of Peace is both not my taste, as I prefer neither stories with horror elements nor novellas in general, and an obvious debut that could have greatly benefitted from more fleshing out and editing. I didn't care for the characters or the lack of worldbuilding or the amount of violence this story possesses. I feel like I'm being overly critical, but I didn't hate this. Breach of Peace was a fine reading experience, but I know the story will not stay with me long now that I am finished, and I know I won't be reading the sequels. I still really like watching Daniel's channel though, and I hope he is able to improve his writing and further his authorial career. 

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