Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Into This Mind by Lisa Nevin

I finished INTO THIS MIND by Lisa Nevin late last night. I went back and reviewed my first post on this story because I knew that I had quite a few critiques.

The story is about a youngish woman who can walk into memories left behind by others. The woman, whose name is Jena, has always had an intense desire to explore a certain expanse of parkland that was closed to the public. When it finally opens up, Jena is there on the first day. While following her wayward cat, she stumbles upon an abandoned ballroom. She goes into explore and walks into the memory of the young married woman named May. Over the course of repeated visits, Jena and her friend, Katri, discover an unsolved murder mystery.

In my last post, I mentioned stilted dialog and present tense. Well, the present tense did not change, of course, but I noticed that Nevin's writing improved the further I got along into the story. I noticed this a little over halfway through. It never reached the point where it could compare with the likes of Mark J. Ferrari or David Anthony Durham, but there was a definite improvement.

By the end of the book, my only complaint was that she tended to have conversations go off into what I will call "chocolate tangents". These sort of tangents could have been used more sparingly, in my opinion. When we talk, we tend to wander off topic quite a bit. However, in our reading we pretty much expect the characters to stay on-topic. There was one scene toward the end where Jena discovered something pretty profound concerning her ability to walk in someone's memory. Jena found it overwhelming and tries to avoid crying by counting blue sheep. Granted, Jena is kind of a wacky character, but as a reader I would have appreciated a moment or two to reflect on the revelation before being dragged back into wackiness.

This and the rather rocky opening were the two biggest problems I had with the book. Since Nevin showed such improvement with her writing, I wish she had gone back and shored up her opening with her newfound skills. Otherwise, her writing was grammar-perfect, with an easy-to-read style and a distinctive voice.

There's no question that the story kept my attention. There was only one brief point where the plot slowed down. Nevin stuck strictly to her plot. There was no needless backstory. The present tense became utterly unnoticeable after the first few pages. Nevin shows a lot of potential in her ability to dole out little facts in the mystery bit by bit. The story had a few surprises and it ended fairly satisfyingly, although I can't say that Jena was ever in any true danger. One can imagine Jena becoming a sort of psychic investigator in future books. However this book stands alone.

All in all, it was an enjoyable little fantasy mystery.


Lisa said...

Hi Tia,
It's clear you put a great deal of effort into your reviews! Thank you! I really appreciate your comments. Most of the issues you mentioned have already been addressed in the next in the series.

Tia Nevitt said...

You're welcome, Lisa! Best of luck with your next book!

Carole McDonnell said...

Walking into memories! Wow, that is a talent I haven't seen in many fantasies. Sounds intriguing. -C

Tia Nevitt said...

I thought it was an original idea, which is part of the reason that I asked Lisa if I could see it.