R. Tim Morris’ Rating: 7/10
You ever start reading a book and after only a few pages you stop and think, “Holy shit. This is maybe going to be my favorite book of all time”? It’s happened a few times for me in the past, and I love feeling like I’ve found THE PERFECT book for me. I had the same feeling through the first 80 or 90 pages of The Beautiful Land – and I was really truly believing it this time! – but then the novel fell into the pitfalls of a predictable storyline. Still, there were many above average moments in the writing, and Alan Averill does a great job in somehow making the outlandish plot still seem tied to the real world.
I think my main problem with the book lies in who the target audience might be. Judging by the content and synopsis, The Beautiful Land certainly seemed like it is adult fiction but there are too many cliches and far too obvious plot twists that might cause an older reader to have an over-the-top-eyeroll moment. At times it felt like I was reading YA but there was far too much adult material (ie: profanity and horrific moments) within. There are also a few too many “deus ex machina” moments, conveniently helping the characters along their way to success. You’ll know what they are if you’ve read the book.
Overall though, there are enough moments where, as a writer, I can take in and enjoy regardless of the other literary deficiencies. Like I said, the beginning is fantastic and the ending is beautiful, just as the title has led us to believe. I look forward to future books by the author.
On a personal note, I enjoyed this book for the many similarities to some of my own writing: bird feather cover; mixing of genres; blending of humor with suspense and science fiction. Certain scenes in The Beautiful Land even corresponded eerily with scenes that I’ve written, like the early chapters in the psychiatrist’s office and in the diner. Also, this novel was the winner of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, a competition that I had entered the very same year, so it was a pleasure to read the winning entry.