Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of Alien Busters by Safa Shaqsy in exchange for an honest review.
Alien Busters is not the first work published by Safa Shaqsy, but it feels like it could be. The Finite Series is also available by her, which disappointed me because it meant there shouldn’t really be any excuse as to why the writing in this novel was so amateur. As a reader, I expect an author to give me their best work. There are always clear signs that a book was or wasn’t proofread and unfortunately, this one falls into the latter category.
I’m not certain if English is the author’s native tongue but it is hard to overlook some silly mistakes. If this is the case, some very minor research or reading other books could have fixed it. The author writes whip cream instead of whipped cream, proudness instead of pride, and Adam’s apples instead of Adam’s apple. She lazily says till instead of the full until. There are awkward sentences like, “I turned to Kraig for explanation who was also checking out the cave”, “…I sensed that the Insitute is evolved somehow to my parents death”, and “Was to run for our lives and to find a safe place to hide in”. Yes, that last example is the full sentence.
The narration style was first-person and it was told in the past tense. And present tense. Sometimes both in the same sentence. This was a persistent problem that lasted the duration of the novel and would easily be caught if somebody edited or proofread it before sending it out for review. For example, the narrator says,”Then I remembered my snow outfit when I was a baby that my parents kept in a box inside the garage, hoping that someday it will snow in the city.” The simple will instead of would gives this sentence two different tenses.
This was not the only problem I had with the mechanics of the novel. Another big issue was that the dialogue formatting was off. Conversations were clumped into long paragraphs, often leaving me confused as to who was speaking to whom. There was quite a bit of exposition that seemed unnatural. The author seemed to want to give all the information upfront and it didn’t work. Right on the first page she mentions that a scanner would scan alien corpses spread on a land with dry, cracked ground. Two sentences later, she says that Alien corpses were scattered everywhere on the dry land. This was also only the first of many instances of redundancy.
There were some grammatical mistakes, mostly involving commas and apostrophes. There were also many instances of sentence fragments. Sometimes the author’s word choice was off-putting and lead to confusion. Sentences were just poorly written and never revised. It was as if the author had a deadline and handed in the first draft a minute before the final product was due. The narrator describes a hallway as being unreachable while already standing there. At one point she mentions that she is joined by other members of her team. Later on, two of these other members are described as Isabel’s friends. Even later, someone mentions that she was joined by Team 5. A reader shouldn’t have this much trouble keeping things straight.
When I read the blurb about what the novel was, I thought it was a cool story idea. This is what drew me to reading the novel. However, the idea was executed in a less than desirable way. All of the story beats were good, and in a perfect universe, they would’ve been written in a way that engaged me as the reader. Like I stated above, all writing problems kept causing me to disengage from the novel. I had to stop, reread, and think about what the author was trying to say.
This was just Part One, and I knew that before I started reading the story. I went in hoping that I would finish it and be curious about Part Two. Unless the writing vastly improves, I can’t honestly say that I’ll be checking it out. Reading this novel felt a bit like a chore and I don’t want to feel that way again.
2 out of 5 Stars. If you can get past the amateur writing, I’d maybe give it a 3 1/2.