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TPG’s Tasters: Watcher’s Web, by Patty Jansen (pt 1/2)

May 4, 2014

So, having spent most of yesterday’s WordPress time fooling around with my layout (because…well, because), I thought that today I’d go ahead and launch the next taster. This time, I’ll be taking a look at Watcher’s Web, by Patty Jansen, which I clicked on randomly while browsing Amazon – a fact that reflects well on the cover, if nothing else.

Incidentally, this book is free on Amazon at the time of writing, so this won’t be a case of “Did I buy it?” so much as “Will I keep reading it?”. The listed price is abnormally high, but it remains to be seen whether or not the true ebook price will reflect this.

As always, if you have any suggestions for future tasters then feel free to make them by commenting here or via email. Previous tasters can be found on the new “TPG’s Tasters” page, so feel free to check that out if you like what you see here.

And with all that said, let’s begin…

The Cover

 

Bookcover1

At thumbnail size, the cover looks fine. The colours stand out nicely – which is probably why I first clicked it, with hindsight – and the title is easily readable at any size without being too plain.

Up close, though, one begins to see problems – particularly if you look at it for too long.

Firstly, the character artwork. Now, by the standards of 3D models, it’s actually pretty good: the proportions are right, more-or-less, and the shading on model is done well. On the other hand, the hair looks completely stuck in place and I’d really love to know where her right arm has gotten to. I’m not keen on this sort of cover art, frankly, and this particular image has done nothing to change my mind on that.

A subtler problem can be seen in the title font: note the positioning of the “A” with respect to the letters surrounding it. This, as any frequenter of Lousy Book Covers could tell you, is a fine example of bad kerning in action.

All-in-all, I’d say the cover works so long as you don’t stare at it for too long. I did click on the book without hearing about it in any way beforehand (rare, for me), so it’s obviously doing something right.

 

The Blurb

Dive into the alien world and alien cultures created by Writers of the Future winning author Patty Jansen

Her name is Jessica, but most people in the Australian country town where she lives call her “freak”. She casts webs of power, reading the feelings of animals and telling them what to do. Nobody knows what causes it, least of all her. 

One fateful day, her “web” connects with a stranger, and stray power causes the plane in which she’s travelling to crash in an alien world. An accident? The more she discovers about herself and the world in which she has landed, the more she doubts it. She finds out that she is a survivor from an ancient race that once travelled the stars. Her ancestors were powerful and dangerous, and it seems at least two people want her: the man at the other end of her “web”, and the man who’s desperate to help her get back home.

Both claim they love her, and want only the best for her, but knowing nothing of the alien world, how does she know who to believe?

It’s a little verbose, perhaps, but it’s certainly well-written. All the key elements seem to be presented, and said key elements, to me at least, are sounding interesting. My one complaint here concerns the “ancient race” bit: it adds a big sense of cliché to a blurb which otherwise lacks it

So far, things are looking good. The cover is decent, as does seem the concept. At the same time, I’m not quite feeling hooked just yet; in other words, my decision here will almost entirely depend on the quality of the extract, even more so than usual.

Speaking of which…

 

The First Paragraph
Wherever Jessica went, people watched her. Like those two teenage boys leaning on the fence, Akubra hats pulled down to shade their eyes. One of them dangled a cigarette in careless fingers; the other swigged a beer from a stubby. Neither was watching her now, but she hadn’t missed their gawking, nor their voices barely elevated over over the noise of bellowing cattle, shouts and truck engines.

Well from this, I’d say things are looking good. 

The first sentence works wonderfully: it’s short and quick, and pulled me immediately into the narrative. We get a rough picture of the two boys in only two sentences, and we can even begin to imagine the scenery by the end.

Granted, I’m not sure about the second sentence’s exact wording: “Like those two…”, while not wrong per se, strikes me as an odd way to introduce the two characters. This is more a personal gripe than anything, but still.

From what I’ve seen so far, there’s a reasonable chance of this book turning out well. The second part of this taster will be coming out within the next few days, so stay tuned.

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5 Comments
  1. Since you mentioned that cover model’s right arm, I can’t stop thinking about it! Where the hell is it?????

    And there’s something about using 3D human models on book covers that creeps me out…like how some people are scared of clowns.

    • I’m right with you on 3D models. Any 3D cover art for that matter. It feels lazy to me, as if you didn’t want to find and pay someone to draw a decent picture.

    • I know what you mean. There’s something almost intrinsically wrong about using this kind of art on covers. It just…doesn’t seem to fit, for whatever reason.

      And the sad thing? This is probably the BEST use of a 3D model I’ve seen on a cover.

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