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Jul 02

Book Review: Past Jumper by Jamie Heppner

Yes, I had another review request that I have accepted. Maybe this is getting to be a habit. This time, I was asked by Jamie Heppner to review his short story Past Jumper.

I have known Jamie for some time…the exact length eludes me right now, but it’s pushing two years if my mind isn’t completely gone. Yeah, that’s a distinct possibility. In the time I have known Jamie I have learned two things about him…

First, he has a ton of good stories rattling around in his head. The little voices that all authors hear are very busy talking to him, and he feels that compulsion we writers are all familiar with to tell those stories. For those of you who are not authors, this is something that you can likely never understand…some see it as a blessing—a gift if you like—that lets us reach out across space and time to create worlds and events that others only dream of. In many ways, this “gift” can be just as much of a curse…the voices just won’t leave you alone sometimes.

The other thing I have learned about Jamie is that he is still in his relative infancy when it comes to writing. He struggles with the “how” part of storytelling, the ways to get the ideas across to the reader. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have told Jamie that he already has the hard part done—the story itself forming in his head—and that the rest is simple mechanics. The bottom line is that we can train anyone on things like grammar, spelling, syntax, and all the other details. The real sign of an author is coming up with a story that others want to hear.

And I think you’ll want to hear Past Jumper

 

 
First Impression Rating – 5.0 Stars

Past Jumper is relatively short. I don’t have the exact word count, but my guess is around 11,000-12,000 words or so. My first read took about twenty minutes, and my initial rating was a LOT lower than what you see above. The reason was all about me, and not the story. I write hard science fiction. I also write science and technology post-secondary text books. I wanted Past Jumper to be hard SF, and it’s not. My first read had my desires getting in the way, and that’s not fair. I cleared my mind of these unreasonable wants and read the story again, and that’s where the top rank rating came from.

Aiden is a great character. He’s young, confused, scared, frustrated, and just plain pissed off. He makes a lot of mistakes, but he learns from them. The boy is doing the best that he can, but it never seems quite good enough.

Story and Plot – 4.0 Stars

The world Jamie creates in Past Jumper is a bad one. No, I don’t mean that Jamie failed to create a well defined world, because he did that very nicely…I mean that the post-apocalyptic world that he paints is one that no person in their right mind would want to live in. It’s desolate, 90% destroyed, and a hard, tough place to hang out. Aiden is struggling to fix this, but while he thinks he knows how, things just don’t go very well for him.

Past Jumper is not science fiction. There are some that would argue that it is soft SF, but they are wrong. Past Jumper is 100% pure fantasy, and that’s OK. I won’t get into the science side of things, but the reader needs to know that this is fantasy, not science. Once you get into that mindset, the story is absolutely wonderful. The blending of science and magic in Aiden’s world makes for an intriguing combination of reality and fiction that is rarely found.

Continuity – 3.0 Stars

This area suffers because of the length of Past Jumper. If a bit longer—maybe only a few thousand words—things could have been brought together a little better.

Be that as it may, the story flows well, though there are some areas that are left wide open. The most glaring example is just how did Aiden come to possess his magic? Jamie tells us how Aiden discovered that he has magic powers, but there is no explanation how he got them in his world in the first place. In lockstep with that is just how the world came to violate a good number (I counted 138) of the laws of physics.

Editing and Mechanics – 1.0 Star

Remember when I said above that Jamie is still in his writing infancy and struggling with the “how” part of storytelling? Well, we’re back to that here.

This is the single biggest danger to self-publication…a lack of proper editing.

Past Jumper has a huge number of grammatical and spelling errors. There are equal numbers of syntax and logic errors. Over all, these errors do make the story more than a little hard to read and follow.

That said, I think most readers can ignore these purely mechanical problems, and I would suggest that you just kick your inner editor into neutral and read the story. You won’t regret that.

Overall Rating – 3.3 Stars

Sheesh…

Just as with another recent review, I really hate this rating. It should be MUCH higher! Just as with so many stories and books I read these days, a bad edit has trashed the overall rating of the story.

By way of a disclaimer, I want you to ignore the overall rating. I have to put it hear because it is what it is, but it is VERY misleading. If we just do the simple math, if the edit on Past Jumper was “high average” with 3.0 stars, the overall rating would instead be 3.8, a much better number.

{OP-ED MODE ON} Readers have seen it. Writers have seen it. We professional authors just smile and shake our heads. Self-published books all have the same problem, and that is a lack of editing. Many self-published writers hire an editor, but that simply doesn’t help. See my Rules for Authors Number Two. There was a time that professional authors were afraid of self-publication because we thought it would cut into our market, and it did…for a while. Now, readers know what to expect. We’re not worried anymore. {OP-ED MODE OFF}

Anyway, let’s get down to the brass tacks here…

If you are looking for a good fantasy story that will hold your attention and entertain you, then Past Jumper is a must read.

I promise that you will love this short story just as much as I did.

You can pick up your copy today at Amazon for less than a buck!

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/07/02/book-review-past-jumper-by-jamie-heppner/