Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: The Universe Builders - Steve LeBel

A copy was provided by the author
in exchange for
an honest review
The Universe Builders by Steve LeBel
Genre: YA, fantasy, science fiction
Published on August 1, 2014
Published by Argon Press
Pages: 420
Read From: 10.4.14 - 10.17.14

We've all heard of the fabled perfect being, the Greek God. 
Well, how about a geek god? named Bernie, yet. 
Fresh with his diploma from God School, determined but unsure, bright but without confidence, Bernie faces the challenge of building his own universe. If only it were that easy. . . . 
An old school rival will do whatever it takes to ensure Bernie's failure, even if it means destroying his world. 
It's god vs. god, guile vs. goodness, where only one of them plays by the rules. Bernie must find a way to outwit his evil foe. If he fails, it will cost him everything.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? The cover art isn't bad. It's very sci-fi and rather interesting.

Characters: I wanted to connect to someone very badly, but I just couldn't. Bernie was a nice enough guy, but he was also pretty flat - as was Lenny and Suzie and all the others. Actually, I wanted to throttle Suzie, she was such a perfect little person, always worried about what Bernie had for lunch and whether or not he was getting enough sleep, and never having a bad thought about anyone. It wasn't that she was too nice - because I will never hate a character for being too nice. She was just irritating. At first, I was indifferent to her, and then it suddenly hit me like a tidal wave that I in fact quite disliked her. Billie was at first really fun to hate; he was an awful person. But after a while. . . .I just got bored. With everyone.

The Romance: Suzie has a crush on Bernie. It doesn't go anywhere.

Plot: Bernie has graduated from god school, and now it's time for him to get a job as a builder of worlds. The problem? Bernie sometimes has trouble following the rules, especially when it comes to dealing with created life forms. Other gods have no trouble blinking thinking beings out of existence if they need - or want - to. They have no trouble antagonizing their civilizations so war breaks out. As far as the average god is concerned, they're just things incapable of true thought or feeling. Bernie doesn't believe it, and such problems with ethics might get in the way of his being able to create worlds for a living. But the other gods are willing to give Bernie a chance, and so Bernie is accepted on a trial run. However, Bernie still has other problems: his nemesis from school Billie. Billie hasn't forgiven Bernie for what he did to him in school, and now Billie is out for revenge. It helps that the boss is also Billie's uncle, and Billie is determined to prove Bernie an absolute and totally incompetent world builder. Bernie is going to have to be clever and resilient to win this one. The overall concept of The Universe Builders was interesting. Readers are introduced to the world of the gods - of powerful beings who create worlds and can do pretty much anything. What was my problem with this book? The world of the gods was nothing new. They wear jeans, go to lunch in cafeterias and restaurants, live in normal houses, work in construction and banks, go to a regular old school - pretty much live like we do. When introduced to the "world of the gods," I expected something quite different; something unfamiliar and new and unique. So world-building-wise, I was a little disappointed. The plot itself doesn't have a whole lot going. Bernie tries to build his world, Billie ruins it, Bernie has to fix it, Billie ruins it some more - et cetera. This goes on for, well, the entire book. What kept me reading was: I wanted to know how Bernie was going to succeed, because his plight really did look totally hopeless. But it didn't take me long to get a little bored with everything, as it just kept repeating and repeating and repeating.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. The dialogue was no good; it read like Dick and Jane, with 30's slang like "gosh" and "golly" and such. Outside of dialogue, the writing style wasn't bad and even at times had a nice rhythm to it. However, the Author spent a lot of time on unnecessary detail and countless reiterations of ideas and plans and character thoughts. Right in the middle of the book, the Author gave a lesson on how the supply distribution system works - why?! And every once in a while, there would be snippets from Bernie's journal that would reiterate events that had already been covered in the previous chapter.

Content: None.

Conclusion: My lukewarm feelings towards this book didn't change with the ending. The climax wasn't really all that hair-raising or alarming or anything. The Universe Builders has a great concept at its core - there's no denying that. And the characters could be awesome with more development and complexity. But in general, I was just kind of bored with this book.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fifteen-and-up.

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