First full-read review for “This Changes Everything” from fellow author, Mary Josephine O’Brien

Here are some excerpts from my first full-reading review, from Mary Josephine O’Brien, a new author and avid reader who found This Changes Everything on (She gave permission for me to quote her pre-uploading the review.):

“It’s an amazingly complex and challenging book for a reader (not a bad thing). You have managed to create a wonderfully original style. The whole idea of watching the novel be written is excellent.

“At times, I felt as if I were being lectured at, but then this was interrupted, just at the right time, by a dialogue-driven scene or another person’s viewpoint entirely. The juxtaposition and entanglement of the writer’s personal life, faults, failures, friends, hopes and dreams turn this into a very warm and believable journey. The extraordinary mix of formal meeting minutes, diaries, personal logs, newspaper reports, radio excerpts and telephone conversations serve to give a rounded view of the whole arrival-of-aliens scenario.

“The time-hopping took some getting used to, as in I had to re-read a few times or look back to see if what I remembered was accurate but it all held together. Clever weaving of historical fact and alien explanation. The what-if re-sets had me sighing ‘if only’!

“You have created your characters very well. I feel for Clara, I imagine her alienating a lot of people because her enthusiasm and drive and ability to push herself makes her someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I would have liked more of the reporter’s life and I didn’t like Epifanio at all. He sounded arrogant and selfish.

“I have to say that I found the book’s ending very satisfactory, and while this is a good thing in any book, I felt it didn’t leave me wanting more.

“I’m sure any traditional publisher will tell you to ‘tame’ it, to cut whole scenes, not to have it so choppy etc….[P]ersonally, I wouldn’t like to see it ‘prepared’ for publication. I imagine you will find a a lot of readers who won’t go beyond the first few chapters, as they’ll be resistant to the format, but equally I think you’ll find the people that will empathize with the book and your points both political and ecological.

“I loved that the aliens were chosen by lottery. You had so many good touches like that, which made the book a continuing surprise.

“The disjointed nature of both the book itself and the timelines in it pretty much mean that, apart from the first chapter (which, incidentally, is a very good opener), the chapters and sequences can be pretty fluid.

“Well done, Sally! A real tour de force, I wish you all the best with it and thanks for sharing it with me.”