Books speak to different people in different ways. Themes play a huge role in the success of a story, even when we are so caught up in the protagonist’s journey that they seem invisible. Most writers place characters on the “stage” to act out a scene, while an emotional undertone or moral message remains unspoken – but very much on the page. The judge who evaluated Radio Head for the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards was especially sensitive to the intended subtext, and I’m grateful to him or her for it. All books in the Book Awards contest are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. Here’s how Radio Head fared:
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4/5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5/5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5/5
Plot and Story Appeal: 4/5
Character Appeal and Development: 5/5
Voice and Writing Style: 4/5
Below is the judge’s evaluation. Be warned, SPOILERS ahead!
“Radio Head offers a young protagonist, Shelby Rey, whom readers should relish due to her power to read people she touches. I liked Shelby’s shrewdness and astute ability to figure out the dangers of a situation. I also liked the cynicism of her “voice” in the chapters narrated by her. I like the bond between Stanford and Shelby, and I was emotionally moved by Shelby’s lingering sadness for her dad. I found the story becoming more powerful as it moved along. The jealousy that consumes Zac is the true poison; the drugs, fame and alcohol take second place in toxicity. My heart ultimately pinches for Shelby when Zac turns on her. I liked the way the author shows the reality of the power of the human ego to inflict pain, and she does so in a way that is believable. I liked the way Laclair moves from Zac to Shelby in perspective; had she not chosen this method of storytelling, the reader might not have realized how untruthful Zac is to himself. I liked the author’s choice of clear, hip language laced with vulgarity, for it creates a convincing sense of the atmosphere of the rock world. The novel’s cover art and back blurb are particularly well done. The summarization is arresting and interesting. The art is simple yet eye catching. What I appreciated most was the depth the author gave the characters and the fact that the novel is more layered than a star-struck love story.” -Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.
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