|Reviews for Testify|
| Vernelley chapter 6 . 2/9
Nice to get a little insight on Wesley's family, since up until now the focus has mainly been on Jacob's family. Twelve kids? Sheesh, I thought my house was crowded. But I used to know a few families who have quite a lot of kids so at least for me, it isn't totally incomprehensible.
It's a little surprising Jacob can mention WITSEC and everything going on with the Mafia and whatever but just not where he is. I dunno, I just feel like there's more than telling someone your current location that can lead them to where you are. I mean it could serve as a plot device for helping Patricia and Wesley find Jacob, but surely WITSEC would've considered a possibility like that too. Seeing as it's vital information I'm not too sure if it couldn't have been handled in a more believable way.
I'm rather curious to see if Patricia and Wesley will somehow get a lead on Jacob; after all, WITSEC is supposed to be there to make sure they're not trackable, right? So I wonder how the two would go about trying to locate him. That's part of the mystery and drama though, isn't it. XD
Hmm, could just be a cultural thing (not sure about multiculturalism in the Netherlands) but to describe someone as 'black' in the (English) narration could be seen as offensive in a lot of places. Generally it depends on the individual in question because some take offence to it and some don't mind as much, but there's no harm in different descriptions such as 'dark-skinned'. I mentioned English up there since I know in other cultures (like in Chinese, I think) using 'black' isn't really seen as a racial slur, but in some English-speaking cultures it can be.
I think I previously mentioned the pacing being a bit slow, but for now I think it's working fine. At least this way it provides enough insight into what not only the main focus (Jacob's family) are going through, but also how the change is affecting their friends.
Anyway, I'm pretty low on reviewing time for a while, so hopefully this is enough to go on for the time being. Hope to continue reading in the not too distant future. Cheers!
| Vernelley chapter 5 . 2/9
Although I find that Jacob's emotions and reactions are being portrayed well, I can't really say I'm feeling for him. Then again I rarely find a main character I take a liking to, and Jacob is not really an exception, but that's more of a me thing and not really on the writing. That said, I think the tension he's experiencing with his father is pretty realistic as far as upset teenaged guys go.
As for the WITSEC lady, her interactions are believable enough. The thing I'm having a hard time grasping is the fact that every single person in WITSEC seems to use the 'scum' epithet. Like I dunno is it part of protocol or are they just not very creative with insults to sling at the people they deal with... So basically the part I don't find believable is that every WITSEC staff here has been referring to Jacob and his family as 'scum' basically every chapter and I'm not finding it particularly realistic.
I appreciate the whole backstory for Anthony, but I do feel it is a little on the dump side of things, especially when Joseph's describing the Big Four. Kind of just sounds like character descriptions from plot notes, honestly, so I'm not sure I like the way he mentions them. And it occurred to me that perhaps Joseph seems to know the details too well? That is, if Joseph was just an accountant or whatever finance-related role it was (correct me if I'm wrong), would he really know all the ins and outs of the inheritance side of things for the company? If things like that went around as a rumour, then that would seem more plausible, but not in the extent of detail provided here.
And again, I feel like the only reason we have to believe Anthony is a menace is because everyone says he is; based on the previous chapter, he doesn't seem particularly intimidating or special in any way. Like you know how some villains could pass as normal people and yet still seem formidable to those who know what they're capable of... Dunno if you know what I mean but something like that.
Now that we have a bit more information on Anthony's background though, I'm taking it as a sign to mean something significant is looming over the horizon. The pacing has been a little slow for the last couple of chapters (though perhaps since I haven't looked at the first few in a while), so I'm interested to see how things progress from here.
| Vernelley chapter 4 . 2/8
Finally found some rare downtime to review 8D
Gawsh it's been ages since I've visited this so I'm a little behind (well, only like 20 chapters...). I'm guessing you might have made changes since I last reviewed so if I refer to anything I mentioned in a previous review, feel free to disregard it. Also I rarely do these review things anymore so I feel like I may have forgotten how to give critique, haha. I'll lay off on nitpicking when it comes to minor details like punctuation because someone else may have pointed them out.
I could be wrong but I think this is the first time Anthony is actually introduced in person? So I'll just make a couple of notes on my impression of him. To be honest... he doesn't make much of an impression on me as a bad guy. Other than the fact that it's been stated he's a villain (came out of court, involved in drug trafficking), I don't really see any evidence from within his character to show that. The actions that accompany his dialogue are all pretty neutral - walking, nodding, etc - and his expressions or body language aren't really mentioned at all, so it's hard to imagine what he'd be like as an actual person. Same goes for Sean really, but that's pretty standard for villain/lackey material so I think it works better for him.
So far all the interactions with the WITSEC people seem pretty consistent; they really don't seem to want any involvement with the people they're dealing with. I know even less about WITSEC than you do but personally I would've just imagined it to look like a regular building XD Though I like your take on it as a place that's little different from a prison. I feel like the whole 'prison where he's allowed to leave his cell' thing is a nice touch but the phrasing is used twice within a couple of paragraphs, so I think it could have more impact if you used it just once.
As for Jacob's cousin that's mentioned somewhere in the chapter... if they're really that close, then I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned in earlier chapters that Jacob will miss them. Nothing major but it did strike me as a little odd since this cousin suddenly pops up. I also feel like you don't need to directly mention Jacob being introverted; retooling the following sentences will probably show that more effectively. Still, I think you did well with conveying Jacob's emotions while writing and reading his letters.
I dunno if any of that made sense but I'm curious to see how things move along from this point. (I also have a favour to return XD) So hopefully I'll drop another review soon. Cheers.
| Vivace.Assai chapter 4 . 1/26
Interesting chapter. I do like how after that initial rush of events, you're giving yourself time to give set-up and some basis to everything (instead of just throwing Jacob and his family into their new lives without that much background and explanation). It also lets us see how much just the idea of change is affecting Jacob. It makes me interested to see how much dealing with the actual change will affect him... I expect a lot of problems (and yes, I'm excited to see how you're going to handle things).
Okay, so I'll go talk about characters since this seems like a good chapter to talk about characters.
Anthony: I haven't really seen him do his scary stuff yet, so I don't know what to think about him as a villain. He does seem menacing. I'll give him that much. But in general, all I know is that he's the boss of the mafia and what others have told me about him (in that he'll hurt your loved ones). It's good enough for me to understand why the characters are under such restrictions, but has Anthony struck a chill in my heart yet? No. I need to see him in action before I find him menacing. He seems like a good mafia boss though (in that, you've developed his character well for his role). Cool, collected, has control of the situation. I'm curious to see what you'll do with him since he has potential.
Sean: Right now, I see him as a capable lackey. I really don't have any opinions on him.
Jacob: Pretty convincing in this chapter. I like how you're building his character. His responses make a lot of sense and if I were in his situation, I'd feel the same way he does. He might have been a tad melodramatic with the letters, though I guess such a change would be hard to deal with... it probably feels like the end of the world to him, so I'm not going to to complain about that. I like how you've made him angry with his father (it's a realistic reaction) and I like how you're building him. There's nothing to distinct about him (he seems like a normal teenager), but that's okay. I like that. I'm predicting that this story will have him grow and become very dynamic as a character, so I'm excited to see you take him from normalcy and then develop him!
Kate: Also realistic in this chapter. It makes sense that despite everything that's happening, she's still antagonistic towards Jacob. It's hard to change habits. Plus, her reactions have been making a lot of sense too. Sometimes I feel like she needs more depth than just being the sister who doesn't like her brother (that's been done a lot), but we're only on chapter 4 so we have a long way to go. So I'm hoping to see more character to her (and I expect I will since I trust your abilities as a storyteller).
Overall, this was a nice chapter. I'm very excited to see what you'll do with the next chapter. I love this story and I like what you're doing with it. Thanks for the great read!
| Vivace.Assai chapter 3 . 1/26
I actually have a bit of time before classes start tomorrow (I'm not just mostly chilling and being bored in the dorm room for the next hour or so), so I decided to continue reading and reviewing this chapter!
In terms of writing, I have no complaints with this chapter. The dialogue was sharp and not at all awkward. There weren't any glaring grammatical mistakes that bothered me. You've gotten a great sense of urgency in everything that you're writing. Things are not bogged down. Things are fast-paced. I feel this chapter is really strong and well-written.
As for plot, I really like what you did with this chapter. I like the POV change to Patricia and then back to Jacob. I was wondering how his friends would react to everything and this chapter settled that question. Also, the POV change makes the chapter more dynamic and gives allusion to the different subplots that are going to result from this story. You've established that this story won't just be about Jacob and what he has to undergo but you've also established that it's going to focus on how the events in his life impact the people around him (which I'm very excited to see XD).
I was shocked that people would think Jacob's family as scum, though it's a nice addition to make things more difficult for him. It definitely makes sense and it's definitely realistic. And it definitely gave way for a great closing to this chapter. "Hell had begun." It's such a simple sentence yet there's so much emotion, so much foreboding in it. And it makes the ending slightly like a cliffhanger, since as a reader, I get curious about what this all means, what will happen next. I assume you have a lot of difficulties lined up and that makes me excited. I like difficulties. It makes a plot good. :)
As for characters, not much has happened for me to really decide what they're like. I enjoyed the allusions to Jacob's old life (that thing about milk, how he isn't close with his sister, his sister's interest in plants) because it-once again-gives us a sense of what "normal" used to be and how his life will be turned upside down. Plus, it definitely makes the characters rounder.
I don't know how you originally had chapter two for this story, but if you made any changes, I like them. I felt chapter 2 was a pretty good, clear chapter. So kudos for that!
I think I can squeeze in another chapter review before I need to work on other stuff so on to that!
Thanks for the great read! :)
| Vivace.Assai chapter 2 . 1/24
Sadly I’ll only be able to get one review in before I head back to college for the spring. I’ll try to catch up… eventually (though it might take until May for that to happen). ‘Til then, I’m just going to try to review as much as I can. Sorry about that.
A bit nitpicky but: [One look from his mother easily told Jacob that he’d better comply – so he did before heading up with a boatload of questions in his head.] I don’t think you really need a dash here. Dashes do replace semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate added emphasis, interruption, or an abrupt change of thought. I feel in this sentence, however, it would flow better without the dash because nothing’s getting interrupted. The second clause is related to the first clause.
Continuing on, I’m a bit out of the reviewing game so I’m just going to do a more structured review.
Opening: Going with dialogue is a good way to jump into gear with an opening. It might not be the most memorable, distinct way to do things, but I feel it fits well here. If I remember correctly, Jacob’s life is about to be turned upside down and things are moving very quickly. It makes sense that instead of focusing on descriptions and such, you just straight into the action with the second chapter and give dialogue that speeds that up.
Plot: I’m very curious to see where this story leads because I’m very much surprised with the twist you’ve given us (or at least, I feel it is a twist). It’s obvious Jacob’s family is in danger if WITSEC suddenly shows up at his doorstep but… mafia? Involvement with a mafia? That’s intense. Who knew being an accountant could cause so much trouble? But the stakes are high and I like that. I like that Jacob’s lives could very much be in danger if he’s not careful or if he lets something slip because messing with the mafia is a death wish. You’ve given us an incredibly good, action-packed set-up and I see so much potential. We’re only on the second chapter but I’m so excited to see what you’re going to do with this (and I can already predict that what you do will be awesome). Also, pacing-wise, this chapter is good. I like how you’re immediately jumping into the plot without bogging too much on exposition and introduction of characters/relationships/etc. It fits the genre of this novel.
Characters: I can’t comment too much on the characters yet. Jacob and Kate feel like typical teenagers thus far and they act in typical ways (like I would cry at the thought of giving up my phone and all the contacts I had on it). I like that you made them a bickering duo, just because that leaves up so much possible development between the two. And it also kind of makes sense. Jacob lives in a pretty normal family as you’ve established—mom, dad, annoying sister. And it’s this normalcy that makes the sudden events seem so much more dramatic.
Writing: I have no complaints with the writing (beyond that nitpicky moment up above). I think you’re doing well with keeping up the pace and describing the action. Again, I would watch the use of commas. I feel there are moments when you could get rid of the commas and it wouldn’t impair understanding for the reader. But otherwise, the writing is fitting for this story.
Closing: The closing isn’t too strong but it gives good set-up for later chapters. Jacob’s comment makes it clear that these characters can’t really control their fates any longer… They are at the mercies of WITSEC (and also the mafia chasing after them). For their own protection, they just have to agree to completely turning their lives upside down. It’s a good note to end the chapter on, just because it relays the gravity of this situation.
Final remarks: Great chapter! I’m super excited to read more of this once I find time (I’m probably going to read Testify first and once I’ve caught up, I’ll move onto Twice). I definitely miss reading your writing and getting immersed in your stories so here’s to starting that again!
All the best and thanks for the great read! :D
| Suzi Stevens chapter 11 . 1/5
I was at a loss reading this at first and had to go back and read chapter 10. It wasn't until Wesley said the letter could be fake did I think it too. I don't know if that was your intention, if so good job, if not you may want to make it a little clearer. Although I did find the beginning of this chapter a little confusing, you could have got away with saying less about the fake letters background. Maybe adding little clues as the two kids went looking for Jacob. We know the mob boss is after them and will pull out all stops to find them.
I get the impression that nether of them want the band to work without Jacob
How was simple - ?
| Nightmare's Apprentice chapter 17 . 12/21/2013
Dude this story's great
| Vernelley chapter 3 . 11/16/2013
Totally not late to the party at all. 8D
I'm going to assume other people have been keeping up with this more than I have so I won't really nitpick too much with the technical stuff. That is, assuming people have already pointed it out. Besides, thanks to this no-highlighting text thing that I assume is supposed to be some sort of plagiarism prevention tactic, it'll be harder to pick out everything anyway. Also an advanced warning that I've not been reviewing anyone for a few months now so my reviewing technique is kind of rusty.
Personally I think I preferred reading Patricia's POV over Jacob's, but I'll point out some stuff I noticed in both.
Patricia's POV is a lot heavier in dialogue, especially in the first part. It's not too bad but I think it might still be worth fleshing out the narrative a bit more just so it doesn't come off as lines and lines of dialogue. Another thing is that Patricia and Wesley are the only ones talking in these scenes, but their names keep appearing in the speaker tags. It helps to avoid confusion but I don't think it's necessary to have it in every successive line, because it just starts to look like 'Patricia, Wesley, Patricia, Wesley'...
This is going to be a little disjointed because I went out to do yard work in the middle of typing this, so... yeah.
When the chapter shifts back to Jacob's perspective at the WITSEC complex, I'm honestly not sure if I find some of it believable. Probably something that stands out to me most is all this scum business. Granted, I don't know anyone involved with WITSEC or the Mafia, or how WITSEC operates or anything, but I would've thought they'd be a little more neutral, or at least less openly contemptuous. Not sympathetic but not so hostile either. I mean, since the point of the program is to help protect people and move them around and stuff, it doesn't seem very professional to openly refer to people in such a disdainful or judgemental manner. Just like a receptionist at a doctor's office wouldn't judge a young patient who comes in for a pregnancy test. It's not very likely people would act so hostile towards their clients regardless of who or what they're involved with. It's not like they're personally involved anyway. Of course this whole thing is invalid if whomever they were interacting with is not a part of WITSEC.
I dunno if anyone's mentioned this but 'chimed in' generally has a positive, cheerful connotation, so it's probably not so appropriate in the context you used it with Kate, since she seems to be angry. Speaking of Kate, I feel like some of her dialogue doesn't really match the rest of her character. Using words like 'therefore' is pretty formal for someone like her. But then I think the rest of her character is fairly consistent; she doesn't seem that mature or pensive so it's pretty characteristic of her to jump to conclusions and emotional reactions without much evidence to go by.
So yeah I dunno, I think the chapter started was okay for the most part, but the last part in Jacob's POV does bother me a little for whatever I just wrote above. I wouldn't say it's a bad chapter but I do feel things could be improved. Also I haven't really checked the edited chapters but I'll do that next time. The plot's moving itself along though, I'm curious to see how things progress in the complex.
| Suzi Stevens chapter 10 . 11/5/2013
A difficult concept to do but you did pull it off. The different points of view worked. I liked how you tied the song into the chapter and gave an explanation of its meaning, especially as you added Jacob's dead friend into the story line.
This chapter brings sadness and realisations but it also brings with it, hope. Everyone has come to some sort of conclusion and is now trying to move on.
The interaction with Kate had me a little weary of her actions. Is she really changing or just using Jacob because he's there and her friends are not? Either way works. if she is genuine then it works because it would take such a problem within her life to make her sit up and think about those around her.
Now, will Patricia start to move on? From her past behaviour I feel she will try again, or if she doesn't her part in the story has not come to an end.
"Thank you so much we could sleep over," - "Thank you so much for saying we could sleep over," or even "Thank you so much for letting us sleep over,"
This chapter is a lot tidier than that last one. Less confusing, even with the POV changes. Looking forward to the next chapter.
| Suzi Stevens chapter 9 . 11/5/2013
Edgar and Evelyn are a cute couple and a bit mushy, and showing that Wesley and Patricia are a big put off by it will bring it out a little more. Lots of couples are sickly in love. I think it adds a little humour to the story too.
Again, I like what you have writing and understand why its in the story. However, where Patricia is going off on one after Evelyn deletes Jacobs number, I feel you should add a bit about her manor/behaviour and not just the dialogue. She comes over as a little hysterical here? Show us that in her actions, her facial expression.
I find Wesley and Patricia a very likeable pair of characters. Patricia is a little hot headed and quick to take action and not think of the consequence, where Wesley is a thinker. He is the one to ground Patricia and keep her from making huge mistakes. Even though he seams quiet, he is still hurting over loosing his friend but he the more practical one of them.
Here's some little bits I found in this chapter for you to look at.
she took off her coat and hang it on the coat rack - The use of hang is not quite right here, there are a few different ways to righten it. She took off her coat and hung it on the coat rack, or She took off her coat to hang it on the coat rack, or even taking off her coat she hunt it on the rack.
Wesley and Patricia sharing a look of disgust? Is that because the couple are getting a bit mushy? If so you could try to clarify that. I think you should because it reminds the reader that they are still kids and would find that situation more than awkward.
Edgar and Evelyn were both really likeable, - Your writing standard has improved over the time Iv been reading your book, but this made me smile a little and reminded me that English isn't your first language. It would read better getting rid of the really- Edgar and Evelyn were both very likeable, - its a simple change but brings the line out of a child like way of writing/speaking.
lying in their cods - should that be cots?
Where Edgar is describing how Evelyn had 'baby brain' during her pregnancy is funny, but suddenly driving at thirty in a sixty zone - doesn't make sense, if she is slower then suddenly is the wrong word. Baby Brain is commonly used so maybe you could use that in there? Don't take that bit out because it adds humour to a dark story. Some find it hard to add humour to a serious story, so well done.
| Suzi Stevens chapter 8 . 11/5/2013
I'm sure Wesley and Patricia didn't need their band failing to realise how much they need Jacob, but it tells us, the reader the depth of Jacob's determination to make the band work. It all links, so it works very well to keep us informed on what the band is doing. Oscar coming back works too, if they are after someone quickly it would make sense to go back to him. Don't think that the reader doesn't need this information, keep it going. It could be one constant throughout the book that keeps the story grounded.
June is a bit snooty isn't she? And the owner of the club isn't being too nice, especially after what they have been through, but I can tell you from experience, that is how it works, as long as your bringing them money they will be nice to you!
I like how you have Wesley and Patricia contacting Edgar. It would be great if they all worked together on finding Jacob. However, the conversation over the phone was a little confusing to follow.
It was probably the nerve - it was probably nerves - sounds better
Now that the manager isn't willing anymore to sneak it to me, - Now that the manager isn't willing to sneak it to me any more, sounds better.
She wasn't an ugly girl - a bit petite, but her long hair looked good on her - I would change the but there due to you using it again here - but the way she looked. The repartition of but is a little annoying
"These are Wesley and Patricia, friends of Jacob," Patricia said. - I don't think anyone would introduce themselves in such a way. so this would be much better -"We are Patricia and Wesley, friends of Jacob," Patricia said.
A few of the dialogue tags are misleading, especially between Wesley and Patricia. Even though the last section about Anthony was very insightful it was a little confusing.
"Nobody ever did," Sean said. Not in a warning tone, no, not at all: he was just stating a fact. It wasn't a challenge, it was just said coldly, without any emotion. - It's like your trying to convince us all on Sean's intention here. Maybe if you changed the dialogue slightly so we would know Sean had to be careful on how he said this statement. -
"Unfortunately, Nobody every has!" Sean kept any warning out of his voice, just state the facts as they were. It wouldn't do him any good to sound challenging. "However, in advance to you wanting action, I'v placed a mole in WITSEC. I'm going to meet up with him tomorrow, and hopefully he will give us the information about Joseph's location you desire."
I think this way it shows how Sean can voice his concerns without angering Anthony, he voices a problem, then gives a solution.
The bit after that where Anthony is looking out the window thinking, (good on looking out of the window, its like a sign that they are not contented.) it is a little confusing were he's thinking about his brother and how he got the family business.
I don't feel that any of this chapter is misplaced or nor needed, its all relevant and interesting.
| Subject-Goto chapter 3 . 11/1/2013
Here's my other return review.
**mrs. or mr. Briadan - Capitals on the Mr and Mrs. I'm no writing expert, so I could be wrong but this stuck out for me.
**Kate chimed in - I see chimed as being a very positive way of speaking. This is a pretty negative situation and conversation. Once again, my personal preference on the language choices.
Apart from that, I had no problems with this particular chapter. It seems you've settled on Kate having blonde hair, so maybe edit the original chapter? The writing is still fluid and you don't clutter it up. It was nice to have another POV and seeing some more of the group's 'rituals'.
| Subject-Goto chapter 2 . 11/1/2013
So, let's start with the little flaws I noticed while reading:
In the opening segment you say Kate has blonde hair. In the previous chapter you called her a 'dark-haired' girl. I suppose it could be a blond/brown sorta thing, but personally, I don't think it adds up.
**"I should, if I were you," Kate's high-pitched voice** I think you meant - "I would, if I were you." - That could be my own personal way of saying it, but I don't think should fits there at all.
Also, why did they suddenly get their phones back on the way to the car? If he took them at the door, so they couldn't contact anyone, why would he give them back and then take them away again? Maybe I'm missing something.
I know he's annoyed at his current situation, but wouldn't Jacob have a more profound reaction to finding out the mafia are hunting down his father? Another personal opinion of mine.
But with all that said, I'm enjoying this. I feel that these first two chapters could've been one big chapter but either way, your writing style is good (although sometimes I think you suffer from the same problem as me where we put in unnecessary commas :P), your description is minimal but effective and there's no confusing or overlong sentences.
And I like the fact that even though your character doesn't exactly like his sister, we can relate to both their reactions to such a distressing situation. (Ignoring the mafia comments or not.)
Keep it up.
| Suzi Stevens chapter 7 . 10/12/2013
The interaction between the siblings was very typical, you got that spot on, makes me think you have an annoying younger sister, so you can relate.
The new names are good, however, I cant help wondering if it will cause confusion down the line, to the reader.
Nathan had brought some books with him that he had - read it out loud...
Because you had the bit in with the new names, and Nathan giving Jacob stuff to do it broke up the 'boring' bits. Yes its boring for Jacob, and he has a lot to reflect on.
Jacob's emotions are good, he would be upset and angry. It would be a hard thing to cope with and you have his emotions flitting from one thing to another. Which is good, I find that believable. Think of a time your world was turned upside down? Confusion leads to your mind going off in a lot of different directions.