Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Before: A Man's Take

I am breaking a personal rule here.  I do not do reviews as C.S. Splitter for several reasons.  When I write, I do not read because I find it distracting.  I do not have time to do proper reviews so, to be fair to other authors, I do not want to do half the job.  I also do not think I am a very good reviewer because I nitpick plots and characters and completely gloss over technical details like punctuation and grammar—just ask my editor.

There are also a couple dangers for authors that do reviews.  What if I do not like the story?  Is that other author going to turn around and give my work a bad review in revenge?  What if I like the story and the other author likes mine?  If we both post reviews, it looks like we did a “review swap” and, in my opinion, review swaps where both parties agree to do positive reviews are very unethical.

So without further prefacing, read on:

If there is anything that drives me more nuts than highschool girls talking about what they are going to wear, that boy that smiled at them, or how cool it is to BE a cheerleader, I don’t know what it would be.  I didn’even like cheerleader-types when I was IN highschool.  I liked the bad girls and the nerdy girls and the rock star wannabe girls.  Nothing made me happier than attending reunions and seeing that the former cheerleaders had peaked at 17 and gone downhill from there.  I am not only a guy, I am a cynical guy.

I also do not like perfect people—which I guess goes along with my prejudice (and that is what it is) against cheerleader-types.  We have all met that seemingly perfect person who leads the seemingly charmed life.  They make you want to slap a “kick me” sign on their back.  Right?  Tell me I am not alone here.

Well, Heven is the perfect cheerleader-type.  She will not even cheat on a term paper.  I should hate her.  And, I do, but I don’t.  Cambria gave me just enough daylight to kind of like Heven.  She is a good kid.  She is, after all, just a little highschool girl that has not seen anything of the world.  Yet.

The “yet” is why the story is very good.  Enter Sam, a mysterious fellow who has a stalker-ish crush on Heven.  We do not know much about Sam except that he has some rather dangerous associates and that he is trying to protect Heven from them.  When I say “dangerous associates,” I am talking about body parts being strewn about and a fair measure of gore.  Hey, we’re getting closer to my tastes in literature here, too!

In my mind, stories are about characters first.  When I think of all the memorable stories I have read, the characters spring to mind before anything else.  Characters, good or evil, likeable or not, are supposed to evoke a reaction in the reader.  As you can tell, Heven made me react.  A deep, dark part of me wants Heven to take a tumble from her perch on that pedestal.  I don’t want anything terrible to happen to her, just enough to wake up the non-cheerleader side of herself.

It seems, however, that Heven is gong to get more thrown at her than I would have wanted to satisfy my anti-“highschool popular girl” prejudice.  I mean, Hev, as she is known to her friends, seems to have some serious trouble headed her way.  She is not only going to be knocked off her perch, she is going to have her soul ripped to pieces.

Suddenly, I found myself feeling, dare I say it, “sorry” for what might befall Heven.  That is where Cambria Hebert nailed it.  She made me care about a character that I should not have liked.  In a short story, no less.  That is skill.  I get the distinct feeling that Hev is going to get much more than a “kick me” sign taped to her back and I want to tell her to duck, run, fight, or whatever else might prevent her impending fate.  Run, Heven, RUN!!

This short story is a prequel to Cambria’s upcoming “Masquerade” novel due to be released in December.  I won’t do a star rating because that isn’t my style--eh, what the hell, it's a five because it makes you want to know the rest of the story--and I will say that you should read this short story.  It is the perfect set up for a growth and coming-of-age story for Heven.  My guess is that we are gong to find out that there is a lot more to Heven than cheerleading and fashion.  Or Heven dies at the hands of “monsters.”  We will see in “Masquerade” and I can’t wait to read it.



  1. First off, I think you are a great reviewer!
    Hell I'd read anything you wrote even if it were a recipe cause you'd find a way TI make me laugh or smile.

    Second, I totally felt the same way about Heven and Cheerleaders but Cambria totally rocked out this story and Masquerade is even better!

  2. Very accurate! As much as I expected to really just not like this character, Cambria made me CARE about what happens to her. Great "man's" take on a "chick" story.

  3. You read it already?! Jealous.


  4. I knew this blog was a blog of truth and taste!! Lol!

    Seriously, thank you for the honor of a review and a man's take of Before! You gave me and my book quite an honor. What a fabulous gift. I couldnt ask for better friends!

  5. I strolled over here just to see this what fun I can't wait for a man's take on Masquerade! Looking forward to reading your book soon!