Finding Pandora

Book One: World

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
218 Pages
Reviewed on 12/19/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

My name is E. Rachael Hardcastle.

I'm a dreamer, a deep thinker, a bookworm and grammar nerd.

I write poetry between imaginative high fantasy, post-apocalyptic and science fiction novels.

I believe that through writing we face our darkest fears, explore infinite new worlds and realize our true purpose. I write to entertain and share important morals and values with the world, but above all, I write to be a significant part of something incredible.

All my fantasy and post-apocalyptic books face our planet's struggles because I believe that together we can build a stronger future for the human race.

I support independent publishing so all my stories are written, edited, formatted and published by me, offering a low-cost, epic adventure and a memorable escape from reality for my readers.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Sandy Masia for Readers' Favorite

Finding Pandora: World is a young-adult high fantasy novel based on the planet Haeylo. It follows Arriette, a smart young woman with a love for knowledge, and one of the few human beings remaining on a planet ruled by Everlasts and simmering with demonic forces. It's when her ex-boyfriend Kalvin, having left Arriette for her best friend Susan, reaches out with news that Susan is gravely ill that everything changes forever for Arriette, leading her into a life changing, incredible journey.

The world of Finding Pandora is interesting on its own, comprising a mirroring history and an assortment of creatures that will make for consuming contemplation sessions. A lot has happened in this world and something apocalyptic lurks beyond the horizon, seething and scheming and weaving; you can sense it past the passages and happenings. This is testament to E. Rachael Hardcastle’s ability to choose carefully what to show and what to suggest. It is with this skill that E. Rachael Hardcastle delivers a light-pierced somber story with a compact, multifaceted plot. This makes Finding Pandora: World a book the eyes can’t skim over and forget, it demands the reader be engaged and it challenges the reader.

Finding Pandora: World is tightly knit, restless, violent beneath the calm, snappy and thought-provoking. It is the strong visceral response Finding Pandora: World evokes after reading that makes it a triumph of its own kind. Finding Pandora: World isn’t just about the characters or the story, it is about a fissuring world at the edge of its fate.

The Author is Talented, B

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD----READ WITH CAUTION.

Arriete Monroe is living peacefully in a remote village on a different planet than our own, when her ex-boyfriend appears at her door, asking for her help in saving her best friend's life. Despite the fact that the best friend ran off with the boyfriend and became engaged to him, betraying Arriete in the process. Arriete agrees to accompany her former lover because of her forgiveness toward her wayward friend. What follows is a journey fraught with betrayal, rescue, and a sort of re-birth that arms Arriete with new abilities she never had before, along with a small army of new friends that claim that she is the chosen one who will prevent an impending war.

I'll begin with the positive. The story I've summarized above had a great deal of potential with its wide variety of interesting races that all have distinct powers or gifts according to what species they are, and the premise of other planets with great cities to mentally explore was intriguing. However, the potential suffered under the following flaws that were too obvious to ignore:

-As writers, we are told not to info-dump at the beginning of a book to avoid boring the reader into an early grave, but this book explained so little about its setting, people's abilities, and background that I was WISHING for some info-dumping to come my way. Various races and their abilities were mentioned, yet there was little to no description about them or the "gifts" they possessed. This book takes place on another planet, and there was not much of a picture painted of it, no image to build in my mind. The book takes place about 7000 years after our own era...why are people living in thatched-roof cottages like in the Middle Ages? Why do some of them wear old-fashioned homespun dresses, when others wear modern swimsuits and cardigan sweaters? There was a lot of potential for world-building here, but it never sprouted wings.

-Plot was very slow-moving, with action scenes few and far between. When there was any conflict, there was absolutely no buildup of suspense, no sense of urgency or me worrying about the fate of the characters involved. Also, the choppiness of the action scenes (as well as others) often made it difficult to grasp what had just happened, and I often had to turn back a page or two to see if I had missed anything. What I mean by choppy in this circumstance is that it felt like parts of the story were missing or rushed, mostly the former. The flow just wasn't there in a lot of instances, meaning that there was sometimes no smooth transition between scenes. I was often left to wonder how the characters got from one situation from another. One minute they were in a cabin, the next, by a city gate. Where did that come from, and how did they get there? I began to get the feeling that everyone knew the art of Apparition from the Harry Potter Books.

-There was far too much dialogue. I felt like all the characters did was talk, talk, talk, until I just wanted them to stop because it was severely dragging down the pacing of the book. There was page after page of conversation, and what made it particularly difficult to get through was the fact that I wasn't always sure which character was talking, forcing me to backtrack and re-read parts of the dialogue.
-During the narrative (or non-dialogue parts), I found the writing style in the narrative to be completely devoid of emotion, without the author's 'voice,' if you will. There was little indication of what was going on within the characters' heads. To create characters that people will care about (even villains), letting the reader know what they are thinking is essential.

-This is just my opinion, but one of the Vampires (referred to as Vampyrs) in the book is called a vegetarian by the other characters because she drinks animal, not human blood. I'm sorry, but you cannot be a vegetarian if you eat animal blood. A creative word for this deviant vampire could have easily been thought up, rendering her unusual tastes more interesting and amusingly irritating to other Vampyrs who possibly despise her for her more moral choices. Perhaps "Faunatarian," because "fauna" refers to animals?

On a final note, I really wanted to enjoy this book. As I stated above, it had loads of potential. A drastic re-write could elevate this book into the level a five-star novel, but in its current state it is not a particularly entertaining read. I had no desire to read the sequel once I finished it. I'm stating my honest opinions here not to hurt the author's feelings, but to assist her in fixing the mistakes all writers make at the beginning of their career, and I wish to be as kind as possible in saying them. I wish her all the best in her growth as a writer.