Book Review: Echo Volume 1

As you can see from the title, these are my thoughts on Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter.

I picked up this book on a sale for Kindle, and intended to get it read and reviewed back in June. Unfortunately, personal life things got in the way, and I finally got the chance to finish it last week. I have to say, despite some of its pitfalls, I’m glad I did.

The book is written from the perspective of the MC, Atriya, who is part of a special division of the dystopian world’s military. Atriya has been the dutiful soldier, always striving for better, faster, and stronger. However, he has recently begun to doubt himself, and has to constantly fight off feelings and ideas that contradict the simple life he always thought he wanted.

Echo holds a mirror up to our society and its tendencies to “…[praise] the virtues of self-reliance…all the while condemning the sin of dependence.”

Because of the world he lives in, Atriya’s feelings are the kind that could get him punished or killed, so he does his best to keep them to himself. But, as is unavoidable with bottled up emotions, they begin to leak out, getting him in trouble. When we leave Atriya, he has just been briefed for deployment on a mission where his superiors are planning something sinister, and his life will be at stake.

It was obvious to me, through the different descriptions of equipment and operations, that the author must have spent time as a soldier. When I looked up Kent Wayne’s bio, that was confirmed. Although Mr. Wayne doesn’t want people to focus on this fact, it is precisely because of his experience that this book brings a level of understanding and intricacy it couldn’t have otherwise.

Now, if you’ve read it or read over the reviews, you’ll know that it has a rather abrupt ending, without any of the fascinating plot points being fully matured or explored. Nothing is resolved, and it honestly feels like it was just getting started when it ends. Normally, a novel has a clear arc, with beginning, middle, and end, even if it has an overarching bigger goal that the author intends to flesh out in subsequent novels. This doesn’t, but I liked the fledgling concepts enough for that not to deter me from reading. Keep in mind: I did not read the preview of book two, because I want to actually read book two, and I wanted to review this on its own merits.

There were a couple of things that seemed to indicate either that the first book was an experiment, put out to test the waters, or it was the author’s debut novel.

First, the novel setup and length. The way it’s set up, I feel there are a lot more installments coming. I don’t mind it too much, but think it would make an AWESOME comic book or graphic novel.

Second, there is moderate repetition in some of Atriya’s sentiments. It wasn’t bad writing, by any means, but it made me feel like the author really wanted to get across an important point, but either didn’t trust the writing to convey it strongly enough, or didn’t think the reader would grasp the gravity of the situation. This is something that has probably already changed in this author’s other books, as they have obtained more experience and hopefully trusts the writing and the readers more.

There were a TON of things that I loved about this book, especially when the prose flows and you can tell the author was really in the zone.

The section of the military the MC is a part of, as well as the equipment and mechanical upgrades the soldiers have as part of their bodies, reminded me fondly of reading “Halo: The Fall of Reach.”

 In fact, I was looking forward to a fight scene to see these soldiers in action, but I’ll have to wait until I read the second book.

Kent Wayne is fantastic at process writing, especially when describing weapons or other gear. The “Executor” pistol was one of my favorites, with thin rectangles of metal that get charged with energy in order to form a bullet. Or, the description of how the drug called “Afterlife” was created as an anti-cancer medicine, but came to be used for “more indulgent purposes” of the elites.

It was fascinating to be in Atriya’s mind as he struggles with depression and numbness borne of disillusionment. At this point, he may be feeling the call to something better, but is still resisting it, as many heroes do.

Random comment: With as many military ranks, types of equipment, slang, and complex world elements as this book has, I would have loved an index of some kind to refer to. There were a lot of things introduced in a very short book, and it would have been helpful.

In conclusion, this novel has its problems, but none that should stop you from buying it. I will absolutely be continuing the series, and I’m excited to see how the author has progressed. Also, I really hope this series is turned into a comic, graphic novel, or other visual media, because I’d love to see what an artist would do with it. A video game with a similar formula to Black Ops or even Gears of War would be even better.

You can buy Kent Wayne’s book, Echo Volume One, here! Where it is (as of the date I’m writing this) FREE for Kindle! Plus, you can buy volumes 2 & 3 for just 0.99 cents!

Ok, once again, I’m not sure if this is put together in a sensible format, but hopefully, it’s good enough.

Book Review: Firefly Magic

I’m finally getting my review up of Firefly Magic: Heart Powered Marketing for Highly Sensitive Writers, by Lauren Sapala! Let me save you some time…if you’re wondering whether or not to buy this book, just stop reading this post and go do it. The advice in it is definitely worth more than the awesome 3$ Kindle price tag, and when I have a house someday, I’ll be re-buying it (and The INFJ Writer) in paperback. I haven’t read her memoir yet, but I bought it and I’m sure it’s amazing as well.

Ok, so now it’s time for the breakdown and my favorite parts! Well…some of my favorite parts. There are too many to include here. The book is set up in chapters with a common theme mixed with her awesome personal stories, and then questions at the end to help you think through your thoughts and feelings.

**If you’re not an INFJ or INFP, you may not relate as much. But, if you’re even mildly sensitive, I believe you will enjoy her books.**

As I’ve said in a previous post or two, Firefly could not have come at a more perfect time in my life. I can’t help but believe the universe crossed my path with Lauren’s for a reason, and I’m so glad it did! Reading her words, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief at how many of the same sentiments I’ve had, but that nobody has ever understood. She even talks about how she learned to blend into her environment “like a chameleon” and about how she was never interested in the things everyone else was, nor was anyone interested in the things she was. This meshed with my previous post so perfectly, but she words it much better.

One of the things she talks about is “achievement oriented” vs “relationship oriented” mindsets.

“If you’re wondering what an achievement oriented culture looks like after it’s been allowed to run rampant for years on end, look no further than Hollywood or the political scene in Washington, D.C. People who engage in gossip and slander, point fingers, denounce, boast, and threaten and intimidate others are all very much a part of any achievement oriented scene. In this kind of culture, aging and illness are unacceptable, emotions are suppressed, and compassion is seen as a weakness.” – Lauren Sapala, Firefly Magic

I love this description! There are so many marketing ploys that are in-your-face, “if you don’t have this (thing, service, etc.), you’re trash!” This mindset is why we, as artists and writers especially, dislike the idea of marketing. You find yourself asking “Do I have to market this way to get my stuff noticed?”

Lauren seems to have hope for our world, though, saying that things are changing. She believes people are “waking up” and realizing it’s a broken system, and that “relationship oriented” (where we are all connected and supportive of each other, rather than in competition) people will prevail. I hope she is right. In Firefly, she details how you can use the “relationship oriented” frame of mind in all kinds of marketing, and how HSPs can stay true to themselves and still be successful at it. This eliminates jealousy and comparison with other authors, and is beneficial to both your platform, as well as your peace of mind.

Firefly has great guidelines on how to create a healthy (for you) environment on social media. There are general rules you should consider adopting, such as “Only accept Friend requests from people you like and feel comfortable with.” and you can unfriend or unfollow ANYONE who ceases to make you comfortable. That’s so important! She also reminds us that we choose what we post about and share. We have the power to control what we do or say, and to add or remove people from our environment as needed. And, as she says, “You don’t need a reason.” That’s both powerful and comforting.

Of course, Firefly details how to attract followers and readers (with an adorable animal story), how to use the right key words/tags, and how to follow your intuition and curiosity to be a better writer and marketer. Near the end, she talks about how nothing in this line of work is permanent, and that sometimes you need to step back, take a deep breath, forgive yourself for any mistakes, and take the time to figure out how to do it right. That is a sentiment that really struck home for me. As a perfectionist, I’m usually very hard on myself, and it can send me into an anxiety attack and serious self-debasement if I make a mistake. So, being able to remind myself that I can fix things is important.

I have so many other things I want to say about this book, but that would run into thousands of words, and honestly you should just go buy it. If you want to know more about your inner Prostitute and your Unique Spiritual Purpose, go buy Firefly Magic here.

Are you an INFJ, INFP, or other HSP, and want to have your mind read by a book? If so, this is for you! She even pegged the fact that I don’t have a profile picture… I’ll have to ask her opinion on how to stay anonymous.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Every time you immerse yourself in marketing work with integrity, an open heart, and the desire to be of service to yourself and others, you are growing and evolving as a human being.”   – Lauren Sapala, Firefly Magic