Saturday, 18 April 2015

Book review: The Last Gathering by Norbert Monfort

"Christina Rivera was hosting what she thought was just another gathering for her beloved community of St. Francis Catholic Church, but things were not at all as they seemed and this would turn out to be the last gathering she would host for this close knit group. It would take over thirty years for Christina to discover what was really happening at this gathering and have a unique opportunity to set things right. There's murder, larceny and scandal, but also the importance of community in helping you thrive during the good times and survive when tragedy strikes. Add in a dramatic and miraculous twist on the concept that everything happens for a reason and you have a thriller that leaves you satisfied in the end."

I have to say that this is likely going to be the least positive review thus far. I've given worse through Reader's Favorite, but we're not able to post reviews with anything less than 3/5 stars. I don't have that policy on my own blog, so here goes nothing.

In terms of the story, 'The Last Gathering' by Norbert Monfort really only gets interesting in the last fifty pages. There are some good ideas in there, which was the book's saving grace. The end read pretty well, but that's about all I can say about it.

This book needs a massive professional edit. It detracted so much from my reading experience, that I had to re-read pages twice just so I would stop editing it in my head. Sure, I edited my own book but I had the help of three beta-readers, and about twenty alpha readers who read it as I was writing. And that helped. So it's not always necessary (but very much encouraged) to get professional editing...but it's necessary in this case. It's not just spelling, but grammar, and style. Yes, I said it. Usually I never review style, as it's all personal preference...but the book read so poorly that the style needs to be altered.

The narrative jumps around, really unnecessarily. Sure, some of the flashbacks/flashfowards were useful, but most of the time they could have been summed up in a few lines to give character background. The dialogue was stilted and unrealistic, and again wordy and unnecessary. Most of the time we get a lot of explanation through the dialogue which can be okay in some circumstances, but the characters are giving these explanations to other characters who don't need it and it's much too apparent that it's an info-dump. At the end of the book, I find out that some characters could have been written out completely and wouldn't have made a bit of a difference to the outcome of the book.

I think if Monfort went back through and re-structured the novel and got a professional editor, it may not even be bad. The idea of getting a second chance to change an entire community is interesting and shows how we are all connected. Every single decision we make will affect others around us whether we realize it or not. But that doesn't even seem to be the focus until the last fifty pages of the novel. If you're looking to pick it up, make sure you wait for an updated version because as it stands it reads like a manuscript rather than a professional novel.

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