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Heroes' Day by Jesse Gordon

For anyone who thinks that self-published novels are a jumble of poor language and half-thought ideas should take a look at this novel.  It’s professionally-written, professionally designed.  The cover is sharp, and proof that you don’t need an expensive illustration to have a pro-quality cover.  Jesse Gordon knows his way around a design program because all of his books and promotional materials are well done.  He’s also got some amusing Youtube spots for the book.

The novel itself is just as professionally written.  The problem with this novel is not necessarily in the quality of the prose, but the quality of the pacing, or even the novel’s purpose.  This book is billed as a science fiction gymnastics novel – now there’s a niche.  But much of the novel is in a kind of no-man’s land.  It’s not quite a realistic window into the competitive world of gymnastics – a topic of interest to millions of people – and it’s not quite a science fiction novel.

Too much of the novel resides in a world not too different from our own.  Instead of training for the Olympics, she trains to compete on the Olympus space station. But throughout the novel, you’re left asking, why bother setting this in the future at all, as the science fiction aspect of the novel is not deeply explored for large chunks of the book.  Obviously, this was a creative decision, but it might not be satisfying to fans of gymnastics or fans of sci-fi.  At the same time, if you’re a person who devours everything about gymnastics, this is a unique take on the sport to add to your collection.

Likewise, some of the language seems out of place.  Some self-published reviewers recoil from bad language.  That’s not the issue here: the book is caught somewhere between a young adult novel, as the lead character is a teenage girl, and an adult novel, as some of the language doesn’t make sense for the teen girl demographic.  It’s another case of the novel seeming to be in a kind of no man’s land – unsure of its audience.

And then there’s the title.  Some may quibble with this, as the possessive is not technically wrong.  Perhaps, but it’s aesthetically wrong.  Heroes’ Day is really just a variation on Day of the Heroes, so the title could have done without the apostrophe and been much cleaner.

The feeling I got throughout this novel was that Jesse Gordon is a real writer – he has a lot of great novels in front of him, even best sellers.  The structure of the prose is strong and easy to read – the title aside.  It makes you think that this novel is a kind of practice on his way to writing bigger and better novels – at a point when a novel like this will be reprinted and read by a new set of fans.

And that’s saying a lot – as a lot of self-published writing does not show the promise of a writer with a future.  So there is a lot of good to say about the potential strength of this writer, just not necessarily about the strength of this particular book.  The shorter review – Jesse Gordon is a writer to watch, but this novel is probably only a novel to read if you’re a devout fanatic of girl’s gymnastics.