Friday, September 13, 2013

Blog tour: Render by Stephanie Fleshman - a review

This week has been all about Stephanie Fleshman and her YA novel Render. You can read my intro and see a book trailer here, an interview with her here, a guest post by her here, and an excerpt of the book here.

I have received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review, this will however not influence my opinion about the book.

Short synopsis
Koldan, an 18 year old prodigy, thinks he has his life in front of him; a promising career as a doctor and the most wonderful girlfriend - Raya - that he plans to marry. But when his grandfather dies, everything changes when he finds a diary filled with mystical clues. These clues lead Koldan and Raya on to a dangerous voyage. Together with them they have Lukas, Koldan's younger brother, and their friend Ethan. Not until it seems to be too late, they realize how everything is connected through Koldan and Lukas' Russian heritage, and the reasons why their grandfather fled Russia when he was 18. Will Koldan manage to escape from his destiny and save his relationship with Raya?

While in Glasgow a few weeks back, I read a book review in The Independent on Sunday that ended with "As empty as its protagonist, the novel is stuck in her superficial worldview and lacks the gravitas or literary panache to puss us out of it." I don't have the literary quality to even write such a sentence, but more importantly - this is not how I feel about Render. However, there are some things I find troublesome during my reading of the book.

One of the most annoying things I know about, is loose ends. But equally annoying are loose beginnings. And unfortunately there are several of them in Render. What is a loose beginning, you may ask? It is when suddenly something appears without being well enough built up to. For me at least, it felt like it was out of the blue when the kids left on the voyage. What was so exciting with the diary that made them do it? How come Raya's and Lukas' parents let them travel all the way from the US to Australia? They're only 17, so they would need some kind of permission. Why were Raya and Lukas suddenly so close friends that they didn't have to speak to each other, they would instinctively understand what the other person was thinking? Nothing before that moment described their friendship as that close. And why would the story have to take place on a remote, lost island? I have the feeling the author was so excited about the action part of the story she wanted to tell, that she sometimes forgot that it isn't just about the action, it is also about understanding why the action is happening.

I have also read that the story is supposed to be in the paranormal genre, at it takes place in a world very similar to our own, but that it isn't our world. In this book, there aren't any hints of paranormalcy, neither are there any hints about their world not being our world.

But not everything is bad. Far from it! Stephanie Fleshman writes well. She doesn't fill her story with clich├ęs and plump language. The story is constantly driven forward, and she doesn't linger with unnecessary descriptions of people and places. The reader wants to know what is going to happen on the next page, and we want to know if everything will be ok with Koldan and Raya.

The end makes it clear that this is the first book of a series, and I really hope some of the loose beginnings (and loose ends!) will be closed and better explained in the next books. It might also become clear why the author considers the book to be paranormal, and what the difference between their world and our world is. I know I will be reading them, because I have started to care about Koldan, Raya, Lukas and Ethan.


  1. I agree a lot with your review. I think the grandfather was going to take them to Australia and they just went anyway, taking the girlfriend along.And Raya and Lukas were friends before she met his brother, though I forget how long. It almost seemed to me that they were in love, and I was kinda hoping she would leave her bf and go be with Lukas cuz that would just stir up more drama. lol I also wondered if maybe Raya was the girl they found in the water, but it was something to do with going back in time or something and maybe that would be the paranormal element. I was wrong on all accounts but I did manage to finish the book and will probably read the second one.

    1. Hahaha, I was thinking EXACTLY the same when they found the body in the water. And that story was also really badly built up to. Ok, so the soldier was creepy in the forest, but then we don't see him for so long, and then we meet him in the end and suddenly it is clear that he did something to that girl and killed her. But why? And if he was that creepy, why would the nurse date him?

      Again - I liked the book, but this is what I find challenging with indie books; Sometimes a professional editor from a publishing company would have helped the author tighten up lose ends and beginnings.

  2. Great review. Just started reading the book. Thanks for sharing.

  3. So glad you enjoyed Render, Marit! Thank you for participating in this tour and for taking a moment to cross-post your review to Amazon and GoodReads when you have the time. Also, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter and random commenter contests!


  4. I do agree about the loose ends, however, I do feel that teenagers are very impulsive and the adventure seemed impulsive- so it could work. I also wonder why she considers it paranormal. I really can't wait for the second book, so I know what happens!