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When James Hall wakes up in a dark, doorless, concrete box with no clue of how he got there or where “there” is, he has no idea that this is just the beginning of his problems. The truth unravels itself slowly: this is an unofficial, covert prison designed by two twisted minds to remove offenders off the streets and cleanse their neighborhood.
Surviving the cells is just step one. James will be forced to make impossible decisions, and in the end, it may just ruin him and everyone around him.
Style and Length:
Cowan’s style is IMPECCABLE. It’s simple enough that I wasn’t bogged down by language, but at the same time, it was incredibly eloquent. The descriptions were very well-written and the emotion was very clear with each twist and turn of the story.
It’s an average length book. I started earlier in the week but didn’t really have a chance to start reading until Saturday morning.
I finished in a day, y’all. That’s how fantastic this book was. I was absolutely blown away.
I did have a slight issue with some of the POVs. I was thrown off when we starting jumping from one character’s POV to the next because James, the main character, seems to have a variety of nicknames. His father calls him Jim, Jimbo, and James. So, in some chapters, I struggled to know who was talking. It didn’t last forever, though. I cleared myself up pretty fast. So, this issue might be chalked up to me just being an occasional idiot.
Whatcha gunna do about that?
Cells has a fair amount of characters! There’s James (the main character and inmate of our “prison”), David and Joseph (the creators of the prison), Craig, Chris, Simon, Emily, Jill, Sally… The list goes on. Normally, I wouldn’t have an issue juggling characters. But this is a FAST read– chalk it up to the action of the story. I did have to slow down sometimes and really think about who was who. Again, we can blame that on the SPEED which I read this book.
I really liked the development of James through out the book and how well he handled all of the issues thrown his way! He’s a phenomenal main character. I’m glad the end worked out the way it did for him.
The two antagonists– David and Joseph– are also very well written. The balance between powerful David and meeker Joe works out good for the dynamic of the story. I don’t know what it is with me reading books with villains I sympathize with, but I can’t seem to avoid them here lately. I genuinely felt bad for these two men! Surprisingly enough, I felt more for David! Please, note: I don’t condone making a torture prison for anyone.
I did have one issue with the characters, though. Joe/Joseph started out as a follower: shy and submissive. He stays this way throughout the first half of the story, but after a certain event I won’t spoil, he seems to… stop being scared of David? It’s a bit sudden. The dynamic changes between them, and I really didn’t like it. Joseph starts giving the orders. I’m not really 100% why it didn’t sit well with me, but it didn’t.
THIS PLOT. Ugh!
I am a huge Saw fan– you know, the movie franchise. I love the intertwining story plots, the torture prisons, the gore, the “justified villain” aspect, ALL OF IT.
Cells reminds me of Saw! I could see myself reading this book over and over just for fun. It’s also the first story I started taking notes on while I was reading! I was on the edge of my seat, audibly gasping, stopping to tell my husband what I thought would happen, complaining about my mistaken predictions…. I loved every bit of it. Honestly. I have nothing negative about the plot, y’all. It was just…
“We are all prisoners; some walls are wider apart than others.”
You can buy Cells by Julia Cowan here! I’m giving it a big ole 9.5 out of 10.
Hey there, Damien here and welcome to my short announcement. Sorry no trumpets and not much to show, just a bit of a surprise shout out – talks have been talked, meeting have met, and a tome of litrpg short stories (10k to 15k in length) will be coming to you in just a few months. Long Live LitRPG!
Humanity is wiped out and the last standing survivor of a dangerous tower climb is granted a single wish, so he is sent back in time to save the world from extinction. After already having reached the top he now finds himself back at the bottom of the tower at level 1. How will he save the world?
Really am not trying to be rude but I’m slightly confused by the high ratings for this one. I found the writing to be borderline unreadable, it sounded more like a wikipedia summary than a book to me. The story was also nothing new and the characters were not very memorable. Sadly really did not love this at all.
Readers have vast, sometimes unknown power: they can elevate the mediocre to a meteoric rise, make them successful and famous. They can also destroy a writer’s career well before it ever gets going. Readers have that ability. They may not even realize what unbelievable power they have at first.
Many of the unknown, poor and struggling authors stretch themselves to extraordinary lengths in order to put out a book capable of delighting. Myself, just these past two weeks, I’ve worked from 8am until 10pm, with a writing break squished somewhere in there to squeak toward the culmination of the second book of a series.
There won’t be a third. I hate to break this to you, if you’ve read the most recent release by Damien and I, and you were like ‘yes!’ or even if you eyed the book and were like ‘I’ll wait until the series is done’.
It won’t be.
And here’s why: someone, possibly several someones, read this book and then used their almighty power to bury the book in the dung heap of low reviews. Every one star rating takes something like 10 five star ratings to combat it. For writers like Shirtaloon and Dinniman, this isn’t a problem: they have thousands of rabid followers ready to five star them by now. Aleron Kong has the same. And that matters so much more than you can imagine. And the opposite can be true… let’s imagine for a second those rabid fans, even a fraction of them, were tasked with finding new books in the genre and just throwing shade all over them. It would really only take 3 or 4 low star reviews in order to kill a book. Do these people exist? Nah, of course not.
What kind of monster would try to undercut what’s not even competition? After all, people can read books faster than authors can write them, so having a robust and professional new genre of books is ideal, isn’t it? So psssh, wave off the nagging idea that someone with a lot of money, or even a mid-lister is targeting your books for obliteration. The only person who would do that sort of thing is the type of author who would try to carve out the entire genre for himself and claim ownership over the whole thing… luckily such people don’t exist.
Say for instance I’m a new author. I work hard at my book, I spend most of a year polishing it, I shell out five hundred bucks for the cover, and I promote it with the last of my pocket change, a couple hundred bucks. It sells all right, maybe I make 300 off the pre-order. I’m feeling all right!
And then the first one or two star appears. I don’t have a following to offset this nasty reviewer… and it doesn’t look like they’ve even read the book? The review is incredibly vague, to the point where it’s impossible to believe they made their way through the book and honestly thought it was a pile of dogshit they’d cross the street to avoid.
While I might have plans for a five book series, I can’t fork over a thousand dollars on a loss on the next five books. It doesn’t make sense. I have to cut somewhere. My wife and kid need to eat and go out and have fun sometimes. I can’t keep propping up a cover designer and Facebook’s or Amazon’s algorithms.
I give up. Series over.
Back to Nolan, because while the hypothetical new author is a sad story, I’m here with the real story. Nolan, the real guy with the real wife and the real kid, the real attempt at a writing career.
I want to reiterate, that, if by chance you know someone who’s tanking new authors on purpose, please for the love of all that’s holy, don’t flame people’s art. Approach this person, shame them, tell them to take down whatever spurious and bullshit reviews they’ve written. And if you’re that person, and you’re somehow reading this, I want to let you know that I’ve worked for hundreds of hours. Honed the work for literally thousands of hours over the course of fifteen plus years. I know what ridiculous incoherent drivel looks like. I’ve read some, and I’ve written some. My book ain’t it.
And if you’ve written one star and two star reviews for other reasons, go back and take a look at them. See if the author deserved it. One star means you didn’t get what you paid for. You bought something and were handed something COMPLETELY different. Again, our book ain’t that. It says dark fantasy isekai in the blurb, it’s dark fantasy isekai. Give two stars to something broken, something you bought and immediately didn’t work. Two stars is for oh, okay, this… oh it fell apart.
Three stars for a shitty book, four stars for a passable book, five stars for a book you want to see in sequel or series form.
And spread the word amongst your people: tearing people down is bad for everybody. You have the power to change that. You have the power to wield for good or ill.