Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Burning the Bridges by Charles Blount in exchange for an honest review.
So, I think sometimes you have to give your book to your target audience- but it’s okay to give it to people who are not your typical readers, either. I fall into the latter category. I was excited to read Burning the Bridges due to my love of thrillers, mysteries, and crime books. I’m a huge fan of those genres, and it felt like this novel would fit nicely. However, I knew right away there was a good chance that I wouldn’t enjoy it, too, as it’s really not my normal read, and it was difficult to relate to the characters or the situation. In my opinion, the best books are the ones you can relate to. I have no doubt Mr. Blount has had many people enjoy his novel for this reason, relating to the intense situation and the story of a family member drawn into a criminal life, but it wasn’t for me.
I struggled through this book for many reasons. A big part of which was the writing itself. I felt as though it could have used some variation in how sentences were written. Several sections dragged with bad sentence structure. I noted one area where a slew of sentences started with “He” over and over again. This is the type of stuff caught by a proofreader or developmental editor, and it’s the type of stuff I notice, because to me, the writing grew muddled. I also didn’t enjoy the start of the novel, where the brother from the beginning is not properly introduced or described for several paragraphs into the novel. It’s classic for the victim to start the novel, and then to switch to someone else after a dramatic beginning, but here, I felt like it dragged on too long, and there was quite a bit of filling that wasn’t as necessary. It began to bore, and be easily skimmable, which is the worst thing to be in a thriller novel.
The first part of the novel features a drawn out death, and a convenient brother moment. I struggled through that, because it was a little TOO convenient for me. It was what I like to call “Story forced”, where things happened due to the writer making them happen, and not necessarily that it made sense. A lot of people enjoy dramatic moments like these, but all I could think was how it didn’t seem natural to me, it seemed forced.
This novel lacks subtlety, which could be the style, but it’s not a style I personally enjoyed. It’s very blunt, in your face. Like a bad cop show, there’s lots of grandstanding and cheesy personality-covered moments. I normally don’t go for that type of thing in my reading, because it often plays off far differently in a novel than it does in a tv show. There’s a certain way to pull it off, and I wasn’t getting that here. I felt like many moments lacked realism, or were just over the top.
My final critique involves the price of the book itself. This book is 328 pages, but prices on Amazon for 20.99 as a paperback. For me, this is a high price, after my researching on book prices. My own novel, I don’t plan on being over 18$ for a paperback. It’s something to keep in mind, and I am very grateful not to have had to purchase the book myself. The author is a generous man, and I appreciate that he wants to get his book out there.
Overall, I think this is a case of me just not being part of the target audience. I can picture it being a 3/5 if I had been able to connect with it more. People who had experiences with family members lost to crime, or who read a lot of crime-element novels, might enjoy this more than I did.