Soul Tool Review 2

Another positive review posted today (per my request–she reviewed from a free copy). Regardless, the important part of this are the takeaway. I was working with a set word count (in order to avoid a plump) explains one item, although I could’ve addressed the points with a few more words. Aside that, the biggest takeaway comes from the point “Show Don’t Tell”, also a book used during a year of creative writing under Barry Hannah (RIP) back at Ole Miss. I’m taking the constructive criticism in this review to heart for the next in the Bayou Boogaloo.

 

I don’t normally read this genre.

Disclosure: I was asked to provide an honest review in exchange for a free copy from the author.

“Soul Tool” is one of the strangest things I’ve ever read. On the surface, it’s about the size of a man’s tool defining him to a large (or small) part. Peel back a layer, and you find it is an indictment of the indifferent treatment poor and minorities still receive in the south. Look closer, and you find it’s really about friendship, love, and need–and it’s all wrapped up in a smutty outer layer of raunchiness that would make Ron Jeremy blush. It’s raw and visceral, with parts that variously made me laugh out loud, cringe, and grimace. It’s an oddly charming book despite its flaws, which are:

Editorial issues: There are instances of missing words, extra words, and improper punctuation usage. That bothers me as a reader and an author, pulling me out of the story. Overall, the story could use another round of editing.

Character development: While you get a broad sense of who the characters are, it’s because the author tells you rather than shows you in many instances. A lot of their traits and characteristics are gleaned more from their manhood and how they use it rather than their other actions. Considering the theme of the book, I’m going to assume that was deliberate on the author’s part. I got a better sense of Ty’s character than Will’s via Ty’s actions. Will is kind of a bland/background character until the latter part of the story. Even then, I didn’t get a strong sense of who he was.

Narrative: Sometimes, “Soul Tool” has a strong, engaging narrative that keeps you reading eagerly, and then the author switches to “tell” as a device to show time passing. It works, but showing some of the things we’re told would be more effective and a better way to connect with the characters and their plight.

Implausible: Duh, of course this is implausible. It’s about a penile transplant conducted by a mad scientist. Well, partially about that. Beyond that, some of the circumstances are hard to believe. I found it particularly difficult to believe Ty so easily accepted his fate. Time had passed, but there’s no mention of how he processes it. Most people would be pissed off and raging about being falsely accused and set up for execution. Ty probably was too, but Mr. Lee doesn’t tell or show us that outrage. There wasn’t really a lot of outrage on anyone’s part, though they did plot revenge. (And the revenge made me giggle with dark glee, though I think Sheriff deserved more than that.)

Overall, this was somewhere between a 3 and 4-star read for me. I think because the story itself vacillates so wildly between smooth and rough that I couldn’t decide. If Amazon offered half-star ratings, I’d choose a 3.5 and split the difference. I’d cautiously recommend this to people who aren’t easily offended, have a twisted sense of humor, and an appreciation for quirky stories with some strange twists.