Book Review: I Died Once

by 'Ard Pete

Does the name James Mahoney sound familiar? Do you feel like you seen this book cover somewhere before? Well, it should and you should. Because James Mahoney is our fearless leader of The Dark Globe and he’s been harping on about this book of his for the last couple of months or so. Plus the book covers on the right hand side of the site!

I’ve known Mahoney for somewhere around a year now, meeting him on the WordPress forums eventually working with him on a few projects, The Dark Globe being one of them which is why I’m assistant editor and you’re not. 😛

If there is one thing I know about Jimmy it’s that he’s serious about his writing, I have all the respect for him in the world for dedicating most of his time to his dream and so when he published his first story he wanted to tell us, I jumped at the chance to snag myself a copy of it.

In order to review this story I have to pretend that I don’t know him for a few moments, so I can read this without being biased. Also if you don’t want spoilers, turn away now as I dissect what I like and didn’t like as much about the story.

Now I have no experience in writing novella’s, unless you count a 50,000 word novel as a novella of sorts, I Died Once is a very quick read at around 50 pages and is mostly written in first person perspective.

I’ve been interested in writing something in first person for awhile, this book seems more like a diary written by the central character more than anything else, I’m not sure if this was intended but it was a pretty cool notion to me. His descriptiveness was top notch also, what he’s tell you actually makes you feel like you’re there at times and it’s that sort of description I look for when reading novels.

The story centre’s around a 15 year old girl named Mady, who for whatever reason, is a bit of a cow. When she witnesses her stepfather killing her mother she hides until her real father who resides in Africa comes and finds her. She then basically spends the rest of her time hiding from the stepfather and gets to know her real father who she can barely remember.

Quite a good story concept overall however there are a few things that really bothered me with it, the fact that her stepfather killed the mother and Mady didn’t bother to phone the police and tell them what happened, instead she writes a letter; she must have had no emotion if she had the thought process to write a letter and mail it off then just wait around watching her crazy stepfather from afar.

There’s being dark and then there’s being emotionally dead, or how when the stepfather just randomly fired shots into Mady’s bed, he didn’t actually check to see if she was there or not first; call me crazy but that’d be the first thing I’d do if I was attempting such a thing, I attribute this to the stepfather being a total retard; also how her father who claimed to once love her mother never did anything to the stepfather when the two met, he just delivers a new rug anonymously to send a message. The father just doesn’t seem to care all that much that Mady’s mother was killed.

Sorry but if a man just killed someone I once loved, I wouldn’t be sending him a subconscious message. Nor would I just wait around while the stepfather sent hired gun after hired gun after me. There are certain aspects to the story that just aren’t capitalized on either, why was Mady’s mother killed? Perhaps we’re not told this because it’s from her perspective and maybe the point of the story is the focus on the aftermath of the incident rather than the why.

It just didn’t seem like how real people would act if a tragedy like this happened. I didn’t feel like I could connect to the characters either, you’re meant to like the protagonists but you had an emotionless, weird girl and a father who just outright kills a beautiful creature like a Rhino. I didn’t like him from that moment forward.

The ending was also a little anti-climatic, I wanted a better end, I wanted what was coming to the stepfather and I never got the sense of that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good read but it’s also a very frustrating read storywise, at least to me it was anyway.

This is a decent first offering from Jimmy, who I’m sure will go on to write many a great novel in the future, all he needs to do is make sure the story is fully capitalized on and either make it more clear why his characters don’t act like normal people would or have them act how normal people would and he’ll do great.



6 Comments to “Book Review: I Died Once”

  1. Nice review! I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  2. Interesting review, Pete! I love how people can read the same thing and feel very different things or pick up on different aspects of the experience. Wouldn’t the world be dull if everyone saw things the same way? 😉

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