“Ferryl Shayde” is another one of those new YA stories that would benefit from an article I wrote in Indies Unlimited last year called, “A Novel is Not a Video Game.”
Because it isn’t. They have many of the same elements, but the key factor is that readers of books do not go through the same emotional experience that video game players do, and therefore the structure of the story must be different.
Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy reading this story. Mr. Huxley has nailed one of the standard segments of teenage society: the group of nerds who band together for protection from the social and physical bullies who make their lives miserable. He portrays their problems in a way that makes us empathize with them, and then allows them the chance to get their own back. At which we cheer madly and want to read on.
A dream typical of one of these little groups is to create a video game that will go viral and give them all the attention and power they don’t have now. In the case of Abel Conroy and his friends, this change occurs because they are creating a fantasy world, and Abel discovers magic in the real world. The magic is carefully constructed and controlled, a plus for this sort of book, where beginning writers tend to go overboard.
But the main strength of this writing is in the characters. They act like we expect teenagers to act, they talk like real, live, people. Their pain is our pain, and we desperately want them to succeed.
The main weakness of the story is the plot structure. There is no overarching conflict building to a climax. The only through plotline is a sketchy physical conflict between Abel and the school bully, which has very little to do with the real conflicts in the story. It comes to an indecipherable conclusion, with the introduction of a new and unexplained evil element in the final 10 pages of the book. In a video game, each new level is expected to have a new and more difficult antagonist. Novel readers expect the writer to craft a better plotline, even if we know we’re being set up for a sequel.
Recommended for video game players and fans of “nerds get their own back” stories.(4 / 5)