When I was finished writing my first book, I thought I was brilliant for having 120,000 words, while most authors could only manage 80-90k. I found the error of my ways in all of the unnecessary scenes written in that not only added nothing to the story, but detracted from the pacing. Gowans left his novel lengthy. Writing a piece of work with a word count creeping into the 6 figures isn't a violation of any rule, but with so many words, it get exponentially more likely to lose readers before the climax ensues. That is, unless the writer has enough to fill the plot; Psion Beta, does not.
This was not the book for me. It had all the elements that I enjoy, superpowers, romance, and futuristic technology, but it suffered from poor plotting. There were way too many characters, but the main character was the only one with a backstory. I felt emersion in the setting, but felt like the world around was all neglected. Would not recommend for high thrills, but possibly if you want to read a rocky love story between 14 year olds. Not taking a spot on my shelf.
Full Length Review:
Sammy is your average 14-year-old homeless orphan who lives in a mini mart in South Africa with his friends. Until one day, the police catch up with them, and Sammy evades them with telekinetic powers. When caught, he is taken into the Psion Beta program, for those with his anomaly, where they train their powers against holograms. Every weekend, they have a competition where the betas are split into teams. When they finish their training, the move on to Psion Alpha, the front lines, where they fight the cannibals that threaten the world.
It’ pretty much orphan learns he’s special and joins an academy to learn about his power. Nothing too original, and as mentioned above, the book is way too lengthy.
Sammy is a really tall, buff 14-year-old who everyone mistakes as 16. He has an Irish sidekick, and blonde love interest and a bully. Sammy gets all the attention, and his memories of his parents almost make them characters as well. Sammy comes in to the program, and excels at everything ,surpassing everyone in the entire program, despite some being there for years. And he is a natural at video games. And his only flaw is that , well, no actually…Let me get back to you on that one.
Set on a facility on an island. That’s about all the information given. The facility houses the Psion Betas, with bedrooms, a kitchen and training rooms all surrounding a giant arena.
As for description, I always knew what was happening. Nothing too flowery, but I prefer minimal description that is precise. My favorite descriptions would have to be in a virtual game where historical figures are having a death battle at Stonehenge.
Third person, past tense. The middle really drags, because the author is trying to put in so much dedication to Sammy training, that he forgets every movie makes that a one-minute montage. I’m sure a 90s sports director could tell a whopping 80,000 words of it in 2 minutes. Also, I struggled to find originality in the book amongst the prolonged love story and training. The one aspect I particularly enjoyed, was that series of flashbacks that moved parallel to the plot. Normally, it isn’t wise getting stuck in the past in a novel, because it drags down what will happen next, but these flashbacks my have told a more compelling story than the rest of the plot.
The book has become a trilogy, and all of the books are self-published. Currently, the 3rd one ranks #846,169 in book rankings by sale on Amazon.com. They are yet to spark the eye of any publishing house. The author is slated to continue the Psion series though, yet I’m not sure I’ll grab the sequel, Psion Gamma.
Writing Style: 1/5