Sunday, September 21, 2008

What if...?

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Title: What if...?
Author: Steve N. Lee
Pages: 352
Publisher Blue Zoo
b's yearly count : 59

Oh, it is so hard for me to figure out how much to divulge of the plot and events of this book, since I am the type that will not (if possible) read any reviews on a book before I have had my chance to form an opinion, by way of reading the book myself. I know there are more out there like me as well. But as a reviewer I need to give a basic idea I will try to do it and at the same time not give you too many hints. Since this is a different genre than I typically read, it is a thriller, I know that the surprise factor is of even more importance. Here it goes:

What if..? is the story of John, a vagrant who has hidden away for 19 years, afraid to fail- but maybe even more afraid to succeed. Mary, a regular woman going through the motions of a life she is disappointed with comes into contact, through a string of events, with John. He saves her. How did he? Why did he? She should be dead, no question. Mary in her search for answers bites off more- maybe too much, but could John's gift be what this world needs? Starvation, death, pain, disease, thirst, could John help them all?

This thriller is an intense read of our current world, filled with tons of up-to-date facts and questions we are all asking ourselves. What if...? Will hint at some answers, but will create many more questions in the process. I never read thrillers, I am not sure why...I think because the covers aren't as pretty maybe, or they seem too end-of-the-world-ish for me. As far as thrillers go, if you are into them, and don't care how ugly their covers are this one is for you!!

What didn't I like? The "good guy" characters are always preaching. What do they preach?: political correctness, all faiths lead to the right place, and that really evil isn't as evil as you would think, and evildoers are only trying to do good in their own way. I am incredibly founded in my beliefs, and felt the wavering in What if...? from good, to bad, to grey quite unsettling. Political correctness, or the horror that it causes spoke to me like I got popped in the head! There is no wrong, only right, any wrong (even killing) done with good intentions, was righted, and praised. I am not sure the author was trying to push his beliefs, but sometimes it seemed that way. Others it seemed the "good guys" were really not all that good, and that that is what the author was trying to communicate. However, whenever a book is about politics and faith there are going to be toes that are stepped on, and not matter how stepped on mine were What if...? was a thrill of a thriller!

What did I like? The honesty of feelings, the rawness. Mary, the narrator was constantly wavering, questioning, and then finally reasoning and understanding. The characters seemed fully human, even more so since they were filled with doubt, fear, jealousy, pride, and envy. I also enjoyed reading What if...? It was interesting, different, and I found the intensity rewarding. I was stirred by the concepts of donating, using less, not buying as much, spreading the wealth we have, and constantly thinking about how we can help those that are not as fortunate to be born in the US with all the genetically predisposed benefits that we completely take for granted. What can each of us do to help? What can we do to bring aid?

Does that give you enough of a glimpse? I really hope so. This thriller, What if...? will take you so many places you have never been before, and if you are like me you will have a love/hate relationship in going along. Love because you see the good, and hate because you see that there is so much that needs to be changed in our world today. What do you think? Ready for this thriller???

Oh, and what do you think of the cover? I don't really like white covers, and it is a little text-booky. What do you think, do you have an opinion?? Should a book be selected by its cover? Huh, I already know the answer to that one :)

Some important links:
Steve N. Lee's site
Lions Led by Sheep (author's blog)
What if...? Chapter samples

Have you read and reviewed What if...? by Steve N. Lee. Leave your link in a comment and I will be sure to link to you.

Other blogger reviews:
She Reads Books
Book Chase


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about white covers. Don't they have a term paper feel to them or something? Will I Ever Know also had a white cover... This sounds like something I'll pass on. I don't like preachy novels. I found First Daughter to be that way (currently writing the review) and it really kept me from jumping in and enjoying it.

Jessica said...

It sounds really interesting, but I agree the cover is strange. I don't think I would have picked it up in the bookstore.

Steve N. Lee said...

Hi Bethany,

I just wanted to pop by and thank you for posting a review of 'What if...?'.

Yes, I know just what you mean about giving people a taste of the story without revealing too much - as you point out, there's a lot to reveal! To be honest, I have a problem with that myself on occasion.

I'm really pleased that, despite not being into thrillers, you not only gave mine a go but that you really enjoyed it. Despite its 'ugly' cover! (Yes, sadly, it does seem to be caught in a love it or loathe it situation.)

I must say, I'm absolutely thrilled that you found my characters to be 'fully human'. As you'll appreciate, getting characters to be real, breathing, thinking people is the secret to writing a book that grips a reader compared to a book that makes the reader put it down and never pick it up again. Really, that's a huge compliment and I thank you for that remark so much.

It's great that you appreciated the human rights and environmental themes as well as they're integral to the story and necessary for the central character to ring true. It was very difficult getting those to blend properly with the thriller elements - the shootouts, car chases, double crosses, etc - but it was obviously well worth the effort when I see people enjoying my handiwork so much.

I'm sorry you felt the characters were a little preachy at times. You're the first person who has said that, in fact. Most find completely the opposite.

As for the evildoers? I feel a villain is much more interesting if he finds justification for his actions than if he's just a moustache-twirling, black hat-wearing scoundrel. Because of that, I try to give my 'villains' real depth, make them real people, even likeable in their own way. Their evil is evil, and, mostly, they do recognize it as such, but as it fulfils their needs, it's an acceptable solution to their minds. The intention was certainly not to imply that evil isn't evil, merely to let readers see such acts through the eyes of the perpetrators. (Oh, and I do hate the term 'political correctness'! Sorry. It always makes me think of trivia, like not using the word 'brainstorm' because it might offend epilleptics, instead of truly important issues like human rights violations.) But don't worry, I knew I was going to be stepping on toes, as you so nicely put it, so I fully appreciate your reservations.

Anyway, thanks for such a positive review, Bethany. All the best with B & B Ex-libris,
Steve N. Lee
author of suspense thriller 'What if...?'
and, a blog exploring environmental, conservation, and rights issues.

Anna said...

I agree, I'm not fond of the cover, but it sounds like an interesting book. Great review!

Ramya said...

hey bethany, that was an awesome review.. and it has been pretty interesting to read steve's comments regarding your post as well!:) it has definitely made me want to read the book!:)
the cover is not too appealing.. wish there was something in it to show that it is a thriller..:)

Steve N. Lee said...

Hi Jessica, Anna, and Ramya,

I hope Bethany doesn't mind if I post another comment, but I just wanted to thank you for the interest you're showing in my work. I'm sure you won't be disappointed when you read it.

As for the cover, Ramya, it was thought that as it's not your run of the mill thriller, it deserved something that wasn't your run of the mill cover. As you can tell from Bethany's review, it is a thought-provoking book so the thinking was that this kind of cover might mirror that.

As I've said to Bethany privately, some people find the cover just plain ugly while others find it wonderfully elegant in its simplicity.

But cover aside, if you like intelligent thrillers I'm sure you'll love 'What if...?'. Be sure to stop by my blog and say 'Hi' if you do! (Or even if you don't! ;-))

Thanks again for your interest and to Bethany for giving me this opportunity to chat with you. Have a wonderful week,
Steve N. Lee
author of eco-blog
and suspense thriller 'What if...?'

Sam Houston said...

Bethany, thanks for stopping by my blog and alerting me to your review...nicely done. If I hadn't already read the book, your review would have made me curious enough to find it for myself.

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