I haven’t fretted over exactly what to say in a review as much for any other book as I have this one, simply because I’ve never read anything that is both so endearing and yet also so riddled with basic errors before. Charlie Romo’s novel follows the adventures of a super model in the futuristic super-city of Moonglow, her relationship with her female lover and with the various other quirky characters around her.
There is, undoubtedly, something a tad charming about what Romo is trying to do. The characters are endearing, and the novel itself is littered with page breaks that double as happy emoticons and hearts. Moonglow as a world is super-shiny, bright, effervescently sweet – the characters glitter almost as much as the city does. And Romo is nothing if not ambitious – the string of web addresses (there’s tumblr, a twitter, a facebook group, all dedicated to the world of the novel) tagged onto the end of the novel all suggest the potential for a protracted web-series of the sort we’re likely to see a great many of in the coming years as e-publishing truly takes off.
But all the charm and ambition of Moonglow is entirely undermined by the fact that it feels amateurish and unfinished thanks to its many, many basic errors in writer’s craft. It is littered with tense-changes, type-os and grammatical errors which jar the reader and make it impossible to enjoy the plot. Within the first chapter I counted five mistakes in the grammar and one tense change, and it doesn’t get much better as the book progresses. This novel, in essence, reads like un-beta-ed fanfiction and as such I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone hand over money for this novel.
I might be prepared to tolerate this sort of work if Romo was operating as an amateur looking to develop his skill, rather than a professional who is charging people for his work – but he is charging people money, which for me demands a certain standard which he isn’t meeting. As it is, I would suggest that Moonglow simply isn’t worth the money. You can buy professionally published ebooks for the same amount, and avoid having to navigate confusing tense-changes and spelling errors whilst reading them. Indeed, there are self-published works available for free or for small donations that are of a higher standard than Moonglow (Sarah Diemer’s brilliant The Dark Wife springs to mind).
What Romo is trying to do is admirable, but he will not get far with Moonglow until he is prepared to properly revise his writing and get someone to knit-pick it for basic errors.