It is very rare for me to not finish a book, or end a book with no intention of finishing it at a later date, and I’m very sorry to have had to do it for The Pen Pal. An indie book by a young, new author, I had high hopes to give it a glowing review. Unfortunately, I can’t in good conscience do that. As an editor, this book was extremely jarring to me. I came across a dizzying amount of flaws with this novel, from grammatical errors to punctuation mistakes, to the voice of the writing itself getting under my skin with poor wording and a lack of explanation. There were more than one examples of random letters, strange spacing, and mispelled words. Many readers can look past these sorts of flaws- I, being a writer myself, can’t. It completely takes me out of the story every time I catch one, and the more I catch, the worse that becomes.
Then there was the story itself. I could not get into The Pen Pal- this story was unrealistic to me. I strive for realism in my books- even fantasy, if something happens it has to make sense. There were a lot of moments in the Pen Pal that simply felt like it logically didn’t make sense, or that it was crafted purposefully for the plot without really considering whether the characters would react that way. At times, the main character Shiloh felt childish to me, and the plot often felt rushed. It’s the way I often feel in shorter novels- it was a situation where there was not enough detail or build up to support the realism of the story.
Ultimately, I couldn’t finish this novel. I made it halfway, skimmed the rest, figured out the plot, and set it down. It couldn’t hold my interest, and it needed a good deal of improvement. If the editing and formatting of it were taken care of, I may have been able to tolerate it more, but I think the writing needs a bit more consideration and work. It felt shallow to me, personally. That is my opinion, though.