Where Honesty Never Ends.
Warning: There will be slight spoilers for the purpose of providing examples of strengths or opportunities related to this particular read.
Disclaimer: This work contains scenes of an erotic nature.
Greetings! The Review Board here. Normally, we would do a bit of separation between what the two reviewers have to say on a particular book. This time, we decided to do things a bit different due to the vast amount of detail involved in this review. So it will be conducted as if an outside party arrived and conducted an interview with the two reviewers.
Ladies and gentleman, making her debut: Ms. Ova Veugh.
Ova: Hi, The Review Board! Thanks for having me. I’m excited to conduct this interview in regards to Love Lost. First let us take a look into what Love Lost is all about:
Summary of Love Lost (provided in Mini Truth’s own words): This is an urban story about a female by that name of Rayna, her life as a child, her life growing up, and then the story eventually evolves into a romance. Basically you can say that this book is about urban life in a modern time and all of the trials and triumphs that come with it.
Ova: So what did you guys think of the cover?
Mini Truth: Although the cover was tied into the story–by a VERY THIN thread, may I add–I felt as though the cover lacked substance. There could’ve been a great many cover images that could’ve better represented the story.
No Labels: The cover didn’t bother me that much. I am a fan of yellow and I like how it stood out against the black. Plus, I would have loved to have had that watch. I have a thing for pocket watches.
Ova: Wow! I don’t think you ever shared that before, No Labels.
No Labels: Well, you learn something new every day.
Ova: Let’s speak narrative. If you had to rate it based on a satisfying cup of coffee, what would be its strength level?
No Labels: I would rate it as a 16 oz cup of Mocha coffee at WaWa with light cream and sugar added. This is what I would go to if I can’t get access to Dunkin Donuts, so that’s a pretty high rating.
Mini Truth: The author was strong and clear in the narrative and made the picture come to life.
Ova: Sounds stronger than expresso to me! Let’s move on. How did you guys feel about the syntax?
Mini Truth: Although grammar, spelling and punctuation are typically at the bottom of my list, in this particular story it was obvious that the author is well versed and was careful in the execution of the prose. I might’ve noticed one or two things tops. In all truth they were incredibly minuscule and barely noticeable.
No Labels: I agree. It was very nicely presented and served as one of the major strengths for me.
Ova: Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Chapter chatter? Let’s hear it.
No Labels: Is there a time limit?
Mini Truth: Seriously, this may take a while.
Ova: You guys have the floor.
No Labels: In the beginning, I did not mind the lengths of Chapters One and Two because there was wonderful pacing and narrative development.
Mini Truth: Yes, indeed! The first two chapters I found very appealing and they drew me in and made me want to know more. I was able to relate very well to all of the happenstances as I came from a similar background.
No Labels: I felt like I was on a plane, and it was smooth flying. Next thing you know, there’s rumbling and jolting. By the time I arrived at Chapter Three, due to the pace deterioration into inconsistency (which we can cover in a separate question), I began to notice how long the chapters were. It is a bad sign when my Kindle App reader predicts it will take over 50 minutes to read one chapter, which was Chapter Six. Although the chapters started becoming shorter towards the end, seven chapters of excessive length had done considerable damage.
Mini Truth: Holy guacamole, Chapter 6! I hate to say it, but out of every book that I’ve ever read, chapter 6 of Love Lost takes the cake as second runner up in The Longest Chapter EVER competition! Second only to Endless Cycle. By the time I’d reached the end of the chapter, I’d almost forgotten what it was all about. There was something about Azmir breaking up with Tara, and Rayna and Azmir conversing on the phone, something about Tara’s father and a trip to Mexico.
In a word? Wow!
No Labels: Love Lost could have easily been divided into smaller chapters, not just where point of views shifted between Rayna and Azmir, but also where there are separations of time (years passing), shifts in location, and the presentation of new characters in the narrative.
Mini Truth: The length of the chapters. They were just too long for my liking (I would also surmise that this would apply for the average reader). I saw many opportunities where/when the author could’ve easily divided the chapters in order to offer what I like to call “easy readability”. Plus, I didn’t see anything that I could identify as a “scene separation”. Basically the entire story ran together and to the untrained eye it could easily confuse, as you’d find yourself asking, “Wait! How did I get here?”
Ova: You guys touched on pace when discussing the chapters. Care to expand more on the connection?
Mini Truth: The pace was my biggest pet peeve. In all truth, this irked me the most. There were intervals when the pacing slowed down so much that it gave you loads and loads of information–sometimes making you wonder why you needed to know these things–then it sped up so much that it left you feeling as though you’d missed something or there wasn’t enough information.
A prime example was when Rayna was participating in a dance competition. Now this scene is primal to the story because it’s when Azmir and Rayna meet for the first time. Well, during this scene you’ll find Rayna talking about all sort of things pertaining to dance and things of the sort, as well as delving into the fact that her dance teacher called her on a constant basis “The Lost One Found.” However, during the most important part, which is when Azmir and Rayna’s eyes meet for the first time, it is too short and lacks detail and information. Also, I did not learn Rayna’s name until well into the story. I must’ve been well into the second chapter when her name was revealed. And may I remind you how incredibly long the chapters are.
No Labels: I was in love with the speed of Chapters One and Two. It wasn’t overly slow but the author was really taking the time to develop this central character. By the time it got to some of the later chapters, it started speeding up, and a multitude of events took place. Then, it started slowing again. It was very disorienting to see so much turbulent pacing. I don’t mind alterations in speed but the measurement in the conflict and the downtimes must be equal in some way; otherwise it throws off the climate of the work for me.
Ova: We have covered Chapters rather thoroughly. Let’s focus on Characters. Any character(s) that stood out for you?
Mini Truth: I LOVED me some Azmir! Wooh! He is fiiiiiine, with a capital FINE!
No Labels: Sounds like someone needs a cold shower! Seriously, though. Azmir is my favorite character in the whole book. The ultimate core and appeal of him made me smile.
Ova: So Azmir’s a winner! How about some of the other characters?
No Labels: I felt like there were some old characters who were reintroduced a little too late or not reintroduced at all. I found myself wondering about O and Akeem, who seemed very important to Rayna in the first part of the book but faded into the background with the exception of “taking care of Akeem’s legal fees.” Sebastian, who was in the early part of the narrative, reappeared out of the blue, and the distance between the time he was first issue and the reprisal was so vast that I had to go back and remind myself of his significance in the story. Also, new characters get introduced within the last three chapters, and it’s almost a mad rush to hint at what they mean to the story, if anything. I would have preferred the new characters would have been mingled in, as opposed to just being placed there.
Ova: Rayna, the main character? Any thoughts on her?
Mini Truth: Too often I felt like Rayna had a double even triple-personality.
No Labels: I just want to expand on Truth’s observation. There are mannerisms about Rayna that leaves me absolutely baffled. In one light she is presented as this female who is focused on really getting her life together. In another light, she represented as this chic who has highly attuned “hood” sensibilities. In yet another light, she is one who is really biding her time searching for love while being unsure that love is what she really wants. Her development isn’t very smooth at all; there are moments when it’s very erratic—when she is way too quick to revert back to “proving she’s still street.” Is there a way to handle things “street like” while still being “sophisticated”? I just didn’t see a balance. These vast disparities caused me to not be able to fully connect with her.
Ova: Any further instances of disconnect?
Mini Truth: There was the matter of Stereo Typing. I cannot say if this was intentional or unintentional, but I found that during many parts of the story, the author inadvertently or purposely (I’m not certain which) made a stereo typical remark about a person and his/her behavior. Especially as it pertained to Michelle, calling her a “Valley Girl” and such. I felt that that was an unnecessary way to describe a person.
Another thing that I was not completely in agreement with was the depth of character in the characters. They seemed shallow and superficial. As if all they were focused on in terms of being attracted to one another was looks and money. Like the surface was the only important thing. There was too much emphasis made on looks and money and not enough emphasis made on chemistry and connection.
Now the biggest reason why this bothered me was because with Azmir for example, it had been mentioned on several occasions throughout the story that he was looking for a meaningful relationship; for a woman that loved him for him and not for his money.
How ironic is it that the one woman that he is attracted to because she is different, is always focused on his looks and his money: making very little mention (every now and again) about how her attraction to him surpassed that.
Ova: You mentioned superficiality and stereotyping. No Labels is there anything you’d like to add?
No Labels: Not from that angle, but in reference to certain interactions. Like the exchanges between Rayna and Azmir. There were moments, particularly when talking about their past lives, where I would have loved to have seen them talk to each other via dialogue (in quotation marks), as opposed to the person listening to the story giving the rendition of what he/she heard. It marks the difference between:
Corrina sat down and told me her story. She let me know her love for pink stemmed from the fact that her mother decorated the house with pink roses, and they made her feel so happy.
“When I was little, my mother would always smile while decorating the house with pink roses. That is why I love the color pink.”
It’s just the matter of the character engagement component. You can connect to someone more if the words come directly from that person instead of it coming from a third party.
Mini Truth: Just to add on. During the dialogue (the story is written in first person) there was an interchangeable narrative going on. I actually enjoy this type of exchange in a story so long as it moves the story forward. What I did not like in this particular story was that I felt that the changing of characters during the telling of the story halted it significantly.
No Labels: Glad you brought up the interchangeable factor. Part of the marathon chapters were the flashbacks between Rayna and Azmir. I don’t mind the flashbacks as long as I’m presented with some new information from one or both of the characters. In most of the instances, it was just a replay of the same scene told by a different person. It’s like watching a movie in letterbox, and then rewinding it and watching it in full screen mode. There was a bit of redemption in Chapter Seven and the later chapters, but it was a little too late to save this style of writing from being a deterrent.
Ova: This story is classified as an “urban” story. Does this description hold water?
Mini Truth: I found that there were some instances that did not necessarily ring true. It seemed that in the most important moments the main character did not truly react accordingly.
For example: There was a scene where she was going to defend her friend Michelle from a bully that tormented her. In that particular scene Rayna diverts back to her roots and decides that in the street things are handled differently. So Rayna goes and has an all out fight with the bully.
There was also another “fight” scene much later on in the book between Rayna and a girl by the name of Syn. Here Rayna finds it necessary to defend herself, and once again she decides that fighting is her only option.
However, there are other more important scenes where I feel like Rayna did not act accordingly at all. Like when she caught her lover who gave her a STD having a threesome, or when she was date raped, or when she suspected she had HIV.
Now, I personally (being from humble beginnings and from NY), know the lifestyle. In knowing that, I also know that in the most important instances, I would’ve reacted much more appalled and angered than the situation with the bully.
No Labels: Interesting you should bring up Michelle and the whole lover scene, Mini. There are certain reactions to events that don’t seem to make any sense to me if you are following some sort of “unwritten code”.
One example is with Reyna and her origins. There was an altercation where a drink was spilled on her friend, and she decides to get her hands dirty so her girl doesn’t have to. I get it: Disrespect my friend and you disrespect me. I have no fault with that reaction.
What I am having trouble digesting is the situation where one of the guys she’s dating left her a nasty surprise, and when she goes to confront him, she rolls up on another unfortunate situation. What happened to the rule, “Directly disrespect me and you get dealt with.”?
See, I’m originally from the South, and you can’t get away with things of that nature without some type of repercussions. I present to you my reenactment of an alternate result to that entire situation.
Location: Does it really matter?
Event: Due tied to a toilet, doubling as a Saw Trap.
Jigsaw voice: Hello. You seem to have a history of being deceptive and causing pain, both physical and emotional, to those around you. The contraption you are tied to will serve a deeper function that transporting waste. You can escape by maneuvering your arms up and around the tank, but will you be able to do that without disrupting the placement of the lid or moving your butt from the toilet seat? If your butt shifts, an alarm will go off, and a certain appendage will go missing. If the lid shifts, the liquid inside the toilet will surge forth and you will feel a burn that’s longer lasting that the kind you’ve been giving others. Good luck.
Um…I guess that was a little extreme.
The other examples Mini Truth already pointed out.
I’m saying that to say this: Rayna talked so much about how she’s from the rough part of New Jersey, yet from my experiences with people who live in the New Jersey area (I’ve lived here since 2003) and with New Yorkers, this weird sense of calm after the double burn would not have flown. The reaction to crucial, life changing events has to make sense, and the reactions from not only Rayna but also Michelle didn’t fully equate.
Ova: Overall, how do you both feel about Love Lost?
Mini: I was really bothered by the fact that I felt as though this story and the author as a writer, have tremendous potential. The writing is good (spelling, grammar and such) and the story can be good. However the execution therein was, simply put, lackluster.
By the time I finished the story, I didn’t care enough about what was going on, or about the characters to even want to attempt to read the next two installments in the series. As the matter of fact, I lost all interest and desire. I just didn’t care.
My final decision on Love Lost is 5 stars out of 10 TRB Stars. Unfortunately the cons outweighed the pros for my liking.
No Labels: I give Love Lost a 5.5 out of 10 TRB Stars. Although certain elements attempted to rectify themselves at the end, it wasn’t quite enough to get this work out of the mid range. This has the components of a wonderful story—a woman trying to thrive despite her humble beginnings and a man trying to break away from a certain lifestyle, but the character development, plot speed, and reactionary imbalances caused the full enjoyment of this tale to be lost.
Ova: After adding and dividing by 2, Love Lost sits at 5 (5.25 to be exact) out of 10 TRB Stars. Mini Truth and the Unleashed one, thank you for sharing your thoughts on Love Lost. Thanks to everyone else for checking out The Review Board. Feel free to like, share and subscribe!
Thanks again for having me!