Devil’s Eye by James Bulu is a sci-fi story told through the retrospective narration of Josh, for reasons that the reader comes to know as the tale progresses. The youngest son of a mixed family, caught in the throes of religious inclination and familial expectations, the young Josh is gifted with an immense and confusing ability from a moment of great stress. When his hidden abilities are revealed to a friendly professor, Josh is enlisted in a secret government program in an effort to propel humanity into the stars. But Josh’s ability has seemingly more drawbacks than anything, and as his disturbing nightmares begin to show themselves in the waking world, Josh must question his destiny or watch the end of humanity play out before him.
This initial set-up is compelling, and there are enough unanswered questions with the respective answers drip-fed to keep a reader content with steady interest. It’s a good, solid, lengthy puzzle waiting to be turned around and pieced together slowly, heavy with a looming dread of what could come to pass. The characters have some dimension to them – not just good or bad. They tend to be a little bit predictable once you look past the basic motivations in the arc. These characters are all at play in a much larger story, and this strange ploy works, to a point, but the story begins to unravel a little by the time we hit the halfway mark, and it doesn’t quite weather the landing, lingering at the end rather than hitting a high note.
Speaking more about the actual product, the book’s design is a little rough, lacking the fine eye of an artist to guide the basic concept to a pleasing conclusion. The font is barely legible and is laid over extremely bright art that hasn’t been properly edited to suit a cover of a book. The titular “eye” is obviously depicted and really draws the viewer’s own, but too much. These are all mistakes easily corrected, a trend that extends to the general editing and formatting of the book: the text is littered with little mistakes from an oddly laid-out chapter list (furthermore, not necessary in a fiction title) to all sorts of spelling and grammatical flubs that seem to crop up every few pages.
The author has pushed through a great deal in getting his creation out there, and deserves commendation for that. There’s a lot going for this book: the idea is good, possibly brilliant, held aloft with patches of vivid and imaginative writing, but the final execution leaves a lot to be desired and needs a real re-working to properly stand up as a professional and enjoyable read. Any readers hooked on the concept and able to overlook the less finished parts should go ahead with Devil’s Eye, as there’s something special buried in there waiting to be cut and polished.
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