Wednesday, September 18, 2013

That Which is Unexpected by A.L. Bridges

    Before I get started with the review itself, I do have to mention that this story will not be for everyone. It's not that its graphic, mature or that it contains content that may be offensive. What makes this story not right for everybody is the author, and the way the story is written.

    I don't mean that in a negative way at all, I really enjoyed the humor and off the wall pop-culture references that pop up throughout. I can, however, see where many people will read this story and find it a little to laid back and borderline silly. If you enjoy a bit of low-brow, semi-dark humor with off the wall, anime-like action in an overall well written story then please read on. One thing I have to point out is at the end of my review I interviewed Bridges, I feel like the authors personality is prevalent in this and to really understand the story you need to understand the author.

     The story beings following the main character, Cole. He's a college frat boy out enjoying the fast paced party life that involves drinking, smoking and plenty of coeds. The main focus of the opening scene is the bond between Cole and his best friend Jason, a friend who you find out pretty quickly has been dead for some time, and Cole is in fact 5 months past that memory.

     After learning his surrogate father, Uncle Eric, past away Cole travels to his childhood home and is reunited with his past. He falls back into his old 'family' easily, except for his 'little sister' that is a little more than that (While Cheza, this sister like character, was Uncle Eric's adopted daughter. Cole was never adopted and thus the feelings this story brings up are uncomfortable, but they really shouldn't)

     Before Cole can truly get settled in, he is thrust into the middle of a war that has been Eons in the making between the gods of various mythologies, particularly between the Norse god Loki and several gods/goddess' that span Incan, Aztec and other mythologies. These gods have very different agendas, most wanting to work together to stop Loki from bringing about Ragnarok and the end of days.

     While everything is sinking in, Cole finds out that he is a descendant of an ancient group of warriors that were created by the gods themselves. He begins training and honing his skills, all the while trying to avoid Cheza's advances and allow her to continue to live as normal a life as possible.

     Things begin to come to a head as a group of Loki's vampires attack the family compound and the bodies and bullet casings begin piling up, all the while Cold continues to fire off his patented one-liners that keep even the most desperate situation seeming light and even fun.

     The story, while again won't be for everyone, has a lot of aspects that I really enjoyed; some of the pros that I picked out for this one:
  • The mash-up between the different mythologies is something that I've never read before. The cross over works very well.
  • The characters all feel so real, and each one has his/her own personality. Whether it be the sprite-like gun toting maid, the naive teenage schoolgirl coming into her own, or the wise-cracking dead best friend they all have an individuality that work so well together.
  • There is humor and off the wall pop-culture references littered all over this story. Whether it be Dragon Ball-z or Michael Clarke Duncan and so many more. At first it seems a little immature and you feel as though its going to be a distraction, but it becomes anything but a distraction. 
     There are a few cons to it as well, and a couple seem to contradict what I have said earlier:
  • The humor isn't going to hit home for everyone. As I said earlier its a little low brow, and a little dark.
  • There are a few small mistakes that come with new authors, specifically small things such as repeating ideas and 'extra' words. These are the same mistakes that all new authors make, and in no way do they take away from the story.
     In the end That Which is Unexpected by A.L. Bridges is a wonderfully lighthearted, comical, action packed adventure that keeps you turning the pages, and I mean that; I found it hard to put down and ended up finishing it over the course of two evenings though I could have done it in one day if it weren't for the civilian job.

     Overall I'm going to give That Which is Unexpected a 7/10 based on:

6/10 for readability - Being the first story Bridges has wrote it was very well done, and the bulk of the transitions are done well. There are a few times when a chapter seems to end, or start almost prematurely.

8/10 for story - The story is very creative, and new feeling. I know I mentioned it before but I can't give enough credit to the ability of the author to mash up different mythologies and make them feel like they belong together.

7/10 for characters - The characters in the story are very well done, each is an individual and has a distinctive voice. There are a few times when you feel like they change their speech patterns up, the main character does it a few times and it was a distraction until you realize he changes that pattern only when he's speaking to a particular character.

8/10 for uniqueness - I don't just mean the story itself or any particular character. This X-factor for this is overall how unique Bridges writing is as a whole. Whether it be the dark humor at the most inopportune times, or the main character having a fight with himself for two whole pages.

     I want to thank A.L Bridges for allowing me to read and review That Which is Unexpected, it really wasn't like anything I've read before in a great way. It blended action, adventure, anime, drama, romance(sort of), mythology into a, which I would consider on the border of new adult and adult fiction though it is so unique that an exact category would be near impossible.

    Since I mentioned earlier that the story was going to appeal to some more than others, I included an interview I did with A.L. Bridges. I think the authors personality comes out in the story, and I think seeing that personality with help sway some out there that still could be on the fence when thinking about picking this story up.

           What was the inspiration for That Which is Unexpected?

I first started writing That Which is Unexpected after having a bizarre dream. I’m not the type of person to remember my dreams, but this one stuck in my mind for some reason. I don’t remember much of it anymore, but I remember there being a dead uncle that worked in the film industry, a cousin that despised me for having a closer relationship to that uncle than he did, and a house where I grew up that had several goddesses living there. Then the dream ended as I was riding on the roof of a flying Trans-Siberian Express with a blue dragon flying alongside it. I only kept a few parts of that dream but it gave me the starting point for the story that evolved into The Gods’ Executioner Series.
A big part of your story is humor, particularly with the characters Cole and Tia. It seems to predominate much of the story. Would you say this is you putting your personality on paper?
Yeah, I suppose I could say that for Cole, but Tia is more related to putting my friend’s personality on paper. Her sense of humor is a bit like Tia’s and I just imagined how she might react in the situations presented.
Another large part of the story is the take on different mythologies. Have you always been passionate about draw different myths or was it something you researched for this particular novel/series?
When I was younger, I was fascinated by the different mythologies. I was constantly reading books on Greek mythology and really enjoyed them; some of my favorites were written by Rick Riordan. However, as I got a little older, I learned more about mythology on my own and realized that it’s far from the PG rating that most books fall into. The majority of mythology is rather gruesome and twisted, which I bring up several times throughout the series. I also noticed a reoccurring pattern of incest in mythologies around the globe that I also found to be interesting, which is partially why I made Chezarei as Cole’s sister and is something that I bring up in the second book.
As for why I included so many different mythologies, that was mostly because I hadn’t read a book that combined all of them. Most books about mythology only focus on one or two mythologies in depth while disregarding the others. I decided to toss in all the mythologies I could think of and only glance over them instead.
I know there's been talk about what genre your writing falls into, but I would like to know who you feel your audience is.
As I’ve said before, I wrote the books that I wanted to read so I feel that my audience is really myself and those like me: People who grew up reading fantasy books and are looking for something a little different now that they’re older. Several people have told me that the first book falls into the Young Adult genre and I’m inclined to agree with them. However, I wouldn’t feel right putting the rest of the series in the Young Adult genre for two pretty specific reasons.
The first thing is that I’ve always hated reading a book that has a buildup of sexual tension that ultimately just patters off with a blank scene, so I get more explicit in the following books, usually while wrapping humor into the scenes. The second reason is because the series has a time span of about five years and the characters change somewhat as they get older, just like everyone does. For those reasons, I wouldn’t feel right about putting the following books of the series into the Young Adult genre.
One thing I mention in my review is that the book won't be for everyone based on the type of humor, do you feel that's a fair statement?
Definitely. I started writing to write books that I wanted to read, and I have a strange sense of humor. I’m the kind of guy that will watch a sad movie, see the main character break down in the middle of the street while it’s probably raining, and think “How funny would it be if he got hit by a bus right now?” Then I start laughing, annoying everyone around me. I know some people don’t like pop-culture references so I will say that they’ve been greatly toned down for the third book and through the last book of the series. I think I have around two dozen references in the second book while I only have that many in the last three combined.
Lastly, I know this is a question that everybody asks every author, but what made you decide to start writing?
The reason I started writing requires a little background into me as a person. I’ve had chronic pain in my right hip for the past three years and it’s kept me from going to school without being on the kind of painkillers that could bring down a baby elephant. For the past year and a half, I kept postponing my plans to return to school. Last December, after postponing my return to college for the third time, I realized that I couldn’t take another nine months of watching TV, playing video games, or some other mind-numbing activity. So, to remedy that situation, I started writing. It kept my mind active enough so that I was able to jump back into my usual school routine four weeks ago. Now, I’m still writing in my spare time because I enjoy it.
If you would like to pick up That Which is Unexpected for yourself click here.

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