Friday, June 28, 2024

Book Review: "Dangerous Tides" by Arjay Eff

I'm reviewing "Dangerous Tides" by Arjay Eff, which is a surprisingly good short novel for a first-time author. I want to preface this review by saying that I was a beta reader who read the book as he wrote it, so I cannot comment on the finished product since he took advice I provided and made changes and edits. I am also friends with Arjay, so this review may be biased, but I'll try to be fair.

I've known Arjay for almost two decades after he joined the Alpha Squad writers group (where I created Vecto). At that moment, I realized that he had a knack for story creation. At that time and until recently, Arjay tried to express his ideas through art and graphic novels, creating numerous characters with backgrounds and storylines in his head. He has now shifted to writing as a means to get these storylines out and started his publishing debut with "Dangerous Tides."

When reading the novella, the first thing that stood out to me is that the story is well-structured, with scenes flowing together and the plot progressing. Many first-time authors struggle with story structure, so the fact that Arjay, who switched from art to writing, did well in this regard surprised me and bodes well for his future development as a writer. I believe that the decades he has spent imagining his stories and how they would play out greatly helped in this regard. Having the story already imagined also helped him write the story in just a few months, which is much faster than I write. And since he has a plethora of characters and storylines, you should also expect many more books in the series.

I like the premise to "Dangerous Tides" (a good title, by the way) with the surface of Earth being destroyed and humans in the future having to live underwater. I also like how the characters have body parts like sea creatures, which give them distinct looks and serve a purpose. It's no secret that I prefer stories with characters who have superpowers, so this lines up with my interest.

As for the plot, the story begins with Mako, the protagonist of the story, discovering encrypted secret data from a destroyed underwater vessel that has his name on it. This spearheads his journey to discover its contents, but he gets into deep water (pun intended) and becomes a target of a powerful force. Overall, the pacing was good and the story was intriguing enough for me to want to read more.

Concerning character development, the book is short and, therefore, may fall short in this regard, but it has its highlights. I wasn't too interested in Mako as a character since he seems to have a typical personality for a protagonist, but the support characters make up for it. His attacker Pisces is interesting, and the hero/mentor figure Cobalt even outshines him. The story deviates from Mako for a bit to focus on Cobalt, at which point I was concerned that he would take over Mako's story, but the story returns to Mako after he discovers his new abilities and joins the fight. The antagonist of the story also seems to be a typical villain and could use more development.

Although some characters' personalities were typical, I don't have an issue with character interactions--minus the foul language from a character. Admittedly, this is a personal preference of mine, as I see curse words as unnecessary and limiting a book's audience. I understand, though, that Arjay wanted the world to be realistic, in which there are people who curse, and I respect his creative expression. I would, therefore, only recommend the book for older teens and adults.

About the ending, I don't want to spoil it, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the last fight. Everything up to that point was exciting, and I had high expectations for a grand fight scene, but I ended up a bit disappointed. It was still a satisfactory ending, however. Arjay mentioned that he has since expanded on the ending from feedback I provided, so it may be improved now; however, I can only comment on my mindset from reading the earlier draft.

Overall, this book is a great start for a series. It's a short read, so I hope that some characters receive more development as the series continues, and I look forward to reading more.

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