I read half of it, and that’s more than enough.
Here’s my halfway-through-the-book review:
The writing is so awkward and bland that even scenes such as the particularly ugly violence in the first chapter fail to have any emotional impact. (In the case of that first chapter, I’m glad it had no impact, since I didn’t want to read it in the first place, but readers generally prefer to feel something when reading.)
There’s one chapter where the writer used italics so much, and in odd places, as if attempting to show the reader exactly how the dialogue is supposed to be inflected as spoken by the characters. Kinda like the previous sentence, but worse because it’s a whole chapter. I have nothing against italics when they’re appropriate/necessary, but this is overkill — and weird.
There’s one scene where only two characters are present, and they’re talking, and every single time one of them speaks, he addresses the other character by name. I’m not exaggerating.
Words are inappropriately capitalized: “The Sheriff’s Deputy returned to the Cruiser…” The writer also “name drops” a lot of brand names for various items, but inconsistently (some scenes have a lot of this, and some have none).
Words are misused: “Encroaching upon the fifth house, Eli glimpsed a black mailbox…” The word copse is used more than once (early in the novel) in the POV of a character who almost certainly doesn’t know what that word means. In one scene, a cloudless, sunny sky is described as gunmetal colored. (For those who don’t know, that’s a very dark bluish grey.)
Grammar is abused. The author seems unaware of how to use lay/lie correctly. Participles are dangled. Adverbs ending in -ly are used way too much.
Punctuation is handled badly. Many times, hyphens are used where they don’t belong and left out where they are required. Don’t even ask me about the myriad comma errors… The writer doesn’t know to place end punctuation inside quotation marks. Semicolons are used in place of colons.
The writer goes into a lot of (often repetitive — how many times do we need to be told that the mudroom leads to the greenhouse?) bland description in places where it doesn’t really matter, and then glosses over the important /potentially interesting stuff.
There is no editor listed in the front of the book. That’s not unusual; most traditionally published novels don’t list the person who did the copyediting, either. On the other hand, a lot of indie novels do list the editor, if only as proof that the book was edited. (Sometimes, this is not a good idea. If you tell everyone who “fixed” the sentence structure and whatnot, you’re telling them whom to blame — although the author is ultimately responsible anyway, because they’re not required to do what the editor advises — when the writing is objectively bad.) I sort of suspect this novel was never seen by a copyeditor; I know it wasn’t seen by a competent one. (And no, I’m not ‘hating on this book cos I wasn’t paid to edit it.’ *rolls eyes* There are some kinds of fiction I will not edit. I do strongly recommend that the writer of this novel find a copy editor who will edit a story of this genre/subject matter.) I suspect this novel wasn’t seen by a developmental editor, either, or even a handful of beta readers.
You may think I’m being too harsh on this author. The thing is, I think no one should be asking potential readers for money without first making sure the book they’re selling is readable. They shouldn’t even ask potential readers to spend their time without first making sure the book is readable. Aside from the thematic elements, the problems with this book could have been corrected if it had just been edited by someone with a decent grasp of grammar and punctuation, and enough patience to do a lot of rewriting individual sentences/paragraphs. That wouldn’t fix the boring plot issue, but at least the book would be more readable while the reader was waiting (perhaps in vain) for something to happen.