Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review: The Sin Collector (Novella) by Jessica Furtunato

The Sin Collector

Author: Jessica Furtunato

Synopsis: The Sin Collector follows the life of Liliana, a born Sin Collector. She has spent over 100 years absorbing people's sins so they may rest in peace come death. However when she meets another Collector, one who insists everything she has been taught is a lie, Liliana must make her way from sunny L.A. all the way to the streets of Madrid. Searching for answers to a question we all share.

Why are we here? The friends and enemies she makes along the way only seem to blur the line between right and wrong. Can Liliana fight the Castus, an organization whose sole mission is to kill every Collector? Should she trust her head or her heart when the two most important men in her life are fighting alongside her?

Then there is the worst question of all, who will be left when the dust settles?Show More

Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Note: Some spoilers.

Review: Upon reading the synopsis to The Sin Collector, I was definitely eager to jump into the book but as the lame reviewer that I am =P, I wasn’t able to get to the book for some time since my life and other books kept getting in my way! So the moment I sat down to read, I jumped in and refused to let anyone interrupt me. I can only describe my relationship with The Sin Collector as a complicated love affair.
The book isn’t so much a book but a novella, which surprised me since I had been expecting a full length novel, but that did not deter me in the least from jumping right in. The story starts off strong, building up the curiosity from the beginning and keeping the reader interested pretty much throughout the entire read. The suspense is well built in certain scenes and some of the action is just as well done. I also thoroughly enjoyed the characters—for the most-part—and could relate to them, especially Liliana since the story is told from her point of view.

Liliana begins the novella with strength and sarcasm, two things I always appreciate in a heroine or hero. I instantly liked her and wanted to continue her story. Billy or William was sweet, protective, and cute. My favorite character though was Olexander. He’s wise, has a certain old world charm, and it doesn’t hurt he’s not hard on the eyes *wink*

As much as I did enjoy the book overall, there were just certain things that made me wish I had the Word document to the book so I could take a red pen to it and start reworking scenes, plot, and characters.
I don’t usually care too much about grammatical errors in books (or novellas) because most of the time there aren’t that many to really distract from the story. That was not the case though in The Sin Collector. Nearly every other page (perhaps every page?) had commas missing, sentences ending in weird places, or words needing capitalization. The first few pages, I just overlooked the errors because it happens. We’re all human and can miss a few things here and there but there were so many my eyes just kept locking onto them. I really just wanted to fix all of them so they would stop distracting me so often. (This may be a gross over exaggeration because I just kept noticing places that needed to be fixed).

The book is written well, fast-paced, and reads with ease. All great aspects of the book and proves the author has actual talent. But that aside, the novella doesn’t work as a novella. Fortunato has come with such a wonderfully refreshing idea and I would have loved to have seen the concept developed through a full-length novel.

The characters are not fleshed out as much as they need to be to really know them. Liliana spends pretty much the entire novella TELLING the story to the reader. Everything feels like it’s being dictated instead of experienced which became frustrating since she was the only real character the reader gets to know. Billy and Olexander do have a backstory, somewhat, but their characters are overshadowed by Liliana constantly explaining everything in such abrupt ways.

The action scenes fall under the same predicament. Whenever a scene came up that would go in the direction of some type of action and the reader is filled with suspense and tension, waiting to see what is going to happen, the scene would suddenly be over and everything would quickly be resolved. It felt like sitting on a chair and someone kicking it out from under you.

But the aspect that just floored me with the novella and had me stepping away from reading (first time I had to step away from the story which I don’t often do) was when Liliana and Billy sleep with each other. The scene happened in the middle of an important mission and Billy SERIOUSLY said, “LiLi this could be our last night on earth. Don’t you think we should enjoy it?” then Liliana proceeds to ACTUALLY fall for the line and go with Billy into her bedroom. Even though she isn’t sure she can really trust him. Even though she’s on a mission to keep all of the Sin Collectors alive and rescue others. Even though Liliana is supposed to be not only smarter than that but better than that! Then the next chapter proceeds to only prove why Liliana shouldn’t trust Billy but she doesn’t really make any real comment about the secretive phone call. Then she proceeds to have a mini make out session with Olexander when he comes to help rescue her claiming he had always been the one for her!!!! (Insert near brain aneurysm here)

I don’t know why the author would decide to go down such a cliché and novice path. Clearly the concept to the book is unique and the talent is very much there so why fall under the bus of “been there, read that so many times before.”

I liked the way the novella ended. It was sweet and nice. I also enjoyed the fact that the book didn’t end on a cliff hanger (even though I do enjoy a good cliff hanger). The ending fit the book and it was nice to see Liliana finally begin really living after everything she’s been through.

But The Sin Collector was missing the depth and fat to make it into the story it deserves to be. I so desperately wanted to rewrite the book. Strengthen the characterization and the dynamic relationships with each of the characters. I wanted to showcase the secondary characters a bit more since they do matter in the third half of the novella. I wanted to strengthen Liliana’s voice so she doesn’t fizzle out into a shallow, bossy and somewhat gullible character when she starts off the story as a strong and assertive woman. I wanted to fix all the missing commas because there were too many missing. I wanted to add another two hundred pages so the fluidity of the story and the various obstacles faced throughout have time to be played out better.

Here’s the thing, I really do LOVE the concept behind The Sin Collector. I know I’m repeating myself but I cannot say enough how the idea is refreshing and unique. The writing, outside of the above mentioned issues, is GOOD. The author has a relatable voice and is great at creating pacing and connection with an audience. I have passion for this book.

The Sin Collector is one of those stories where gut instinct tells you it’ll be great, it’ll be big but it just needs more time before its ready. The novella came off more as a rough draft version of a book yet to come, not a book completely ready to be published.

I would still recommend The Sin Collector to fantasy and supernatural fans. It’s a short read and very much an enjoyable one. 

About the Author: Jessica Fortunato is a writer in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

She has been a freelance reviewer for the past three years. She has always loved a supernatural aspect to literature, as well as the addition of theology, so it is no surprise that her debut novel "The Sin Collector" combines just that. 

She has been a waitress, a cook, a librarian, a book binder, nanny, and even a hairdresser when the occasion calls for it. However writing is her main focus and she is thrilled to share the first installment of what she hopes will be a a beloved book series. 

Jessica says she based the heroine of her book, Liliana, on the many extraordinary women in her life. 

Where to Find the Author

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