Review of A Good Boy (Book 1 of The Dying Church Series)

So a little background before I launch into my first official review. I got a request from the author to review a rough draft of the second book in the series, but I felt completely unprepared for that so I bought and read the first book. Aside from that one interaction, I have never met Anthony Andre (or is it Tony Bradshaw; both are show as the author in the kindle version I bought) and I do not personally know him. With the formalities out of the way let us begin.

A Good Boy the first e-book in a series of to-be-printed e-books written by Tony Bradshaw. It follows the first three weeks of Wesley Aames as the new pastor of New Covenant Church in Asheville, North Carolina. And if you think this is a nice quaint story about a pastor and his church, then you’re only half right; the other half is reading about irredeemable . . . I can’t think of any polite terms so I’m going to say “people”. Which is sort of how you can describe everything about this story in half-n-half: both halves clashing with the other. Half the time it’s believable, the other half it’s not. Half the time you can recommend it to a Christian friend, and the other half dooms it to forever stay out of most Christian hands.

On the technical side of things it is mostly well done, but there are a lot of examples that just work to un-focus the reader:

The setting is unremarkable, and by that I mean that there is barely anything that makes any of the scenery stick in your mind. I chalk it up to the story focusing mainly on dialogue and the different characters’ thoughts and feelings. In other words, the story is far more concerned with characters than setting; to the settings detriment. This further compounded by the very abrupt jumps that happen often and throughout the story: time jumps of maybe a couple of paragraphs could have tied together seamlessly.

The plot is actually an interesting premise, that is sometimes capitalized on, but for the most part feels like an after thought in most of the execution. It sounds good: new, inexperienced pastor at an old church that is die. But the main conflict feels more manufactured than real, and the worst parts of the story often seem to originate with it. Often painting in bold black and white colours, while trying to paint every other conflict with different shades of grey.

The Characters are the main focus and drive of the story, but again it’s a mixed bag. The best characters appear further down the line of importance, most of the main characters are good apples with a nice big, brown spot. Wesley for example has depth and tragedy in his background, as well as an underdog preacher in a church that doesn’t want him, but he’s a pastor that drinks and swears (and I disagree with him on a few points of his doctrine and opinions . . . and please don’t assume what those are). But when characters aren’t good they stick out like a sore thumb and dominate the page their on. Red and Rosa are the worst characters of this story, not because of what they do in the story, but how their written. Red is your stereotypical sleazy scumbag who cares solely for those dollar signs, and Rosa is a stereotype of the fat lady that always find their way onto reality TV shows. They have no personality beyond their stereotypes. So much focus is put on them that the story as a whole suffers noticeably from their presence.

Ultimately, I can say that this story is just not for me, and I don’t know who I would recommend this to either. I’m going to stop myself here otherwise I would start doing an analysis of it.rating-for-a-good-boy

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