Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Review: Kristan Hoffman's "Twenty-Somewhere"

Sophie, MJ, and Claudia met in college and part ways post-graduation to pursue their individual dreams. Sophie secures a position with one of the biggest advertising firms in the country, MJ heads to a prestigious science graduate program in England, and Claudia moves in with her boyfriend while she finishes her first novel. But the three girls face circumstances they never imagined and must successfully navigate through all the unexpected, gut-wrenching, and sometimes inappropriate events. Kristan Hoffman’s Twenty-Somewhere, a 40-episode ebook, accurately portrays the self-identity, panic, and enthusiasm many post-grads feel as they enter their first year of true adulthood.

Structure: 4 out of 5 stars

The author weaves the three girls’ stories together and dedicates an equal amount of literary real estate to each one. Chapters vary lengths and intensity and flow nicely. The plot is realistic and full of sarcasm, much like the typical post-grad experience. While the story line follows a consistent pace, I would have enjoyed a bit more depth to the script. Relationships and jobs are certainly challenging for everyone - the author has built up the right momentum to extend those two aspects of life into more treacherous waters. Perhaps the sequel could do so?

Character: 4 out of 5 stars

I was glad to see the author present three strong female leads. Claudia's strength as a character takes 3/4 of the novel to appear (she spends a big part of her time relying on her boyfriend), but then finally takes control of her own future and her character beautifully transforms. Overall, the women offer unique stories. For Sophie, MJ, and Claudia, their careers, respect, and happiness come first and all else comes second - a refreshing set of protagonists. However, the author takes a turn when Sophie quits her job and decides to indulge in fashion instead. This is not entirely a step back - Sophie demonstrates her expertise and control in the fashion industry - but I felt like the author emphasizes a somewhat stereotypical obsession with cute clothes rather than a sharp sense of marketing. Likewise, both Sophie and MJ take a small "boy crazy" shift for several chapters, but then jump right back. Apart from those moments, the women are champion female leads.

Voice: 4 out of 5 stars

Because all three girls have stories to tell, all three voices get limelight. The author did a great job making the characters sound similar enough to be former college roommates, but still distinctive enough to be identifiable. There are also sections of the novel where secondary characters, like Claudia's slightly crazed fan, Michelle, pop up via email and therefore even more voices get explored.

Twenty-Somewhere was published in 2010 as an Amazon ebook, and hit #9 on the Kindle list of free ebooks during the 4 days it was free. Read more about Kristan Hoffman's experiences with ebook publishing here.

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