“I don’t think it’s from this world.”
Rating Broken Shards of Time by Nyah Nichol was probably one of the most difficult decisions, largely due to the author’s age. Your average 14 year old definitely couldn’t write a book like this. In fact, there aren’t many kids of that age range who can. And it’s fair to say that Nyah Nichol deserves some credit for having put this all together. That said, this book needs some serious editing. And I don’t mean this in terms of anything grammatical as that was fine. To put it simply, Nichol has great plot ideas but does not know how to write the actual story.
A Brilliant Idea
This book needed a content editor. And someone to tell Nichol what pieces really needed a rewrite or to be removed entirely. In general, I can actually say that the overall premise was rather brilliant. A time travel story in which a young girl is pulled into the future in order to help save the world from the evil that she will eventually become is a fantastic idea for a novel. It’s so good, in fact, that I find it thoroughly dejecting that this book is an example of how not to tell a story.
I wish that I didn’t have to say so.
Piecing a Story Together
Nichol clearly knew what story she was planning to tell. You can see that fact in nearly every scene of the novel. In fact, she knew so much what story she was telling that she subjected her readers to a lot of excess nonsense. What I mean by this is that this book was mostly told in exposition. There were massive chunks of this book where all we are getting is background information in one form or another. A good portion of the time, a lot of this information was unnecessary. Even worse, some of it was unnecessary in the fact that it gave away almost everything about the novel’s plot.
There was literally no guessing to be had regarding the events that were coming. You knew them all from the start. And if you didn’t know right away, it was revealed very shortly. Nothing in this novel surprised me.
You know that old adage about writing, show, don’t tell?
Yeah, that was a problem here. Nichol really didn’t know how to show her readers this story. It was so bad that it honestly kind of felt as though she were forcing all this information into my brain like someone trying to force something down my throat. I was drowning in the excess of unnecessary explanation and summary. It was so distracting that you barely feel as though you are getting to know the characters. Instead, you feel like you’re listening to a long-winded ramble of someone trying to explain a movie they watched and somehow they end up adding all this fluff of pointlessness that you spent more time listening to the description than it would have taken to watch the actual movie.
Speaking of Time
It was all over the place. And the funny thing about this is that Nichol’s novel is a time travel story. Yet it was clear from the very moment time travel entered the plot that she had no idea how to pace out her story. If you’re not paying very close attention, you get confused very easily. Even if you are paying attention, you’re probably going to get confused. It came as no surprise to me that many of the reviews for this book feature a comment or two about how the time travel was confusing.
Nichol really didn’t know how to bring that piece to life. A large part of the reason behind this is the fact that she just jumped around with time willy-nilly. Instead of the different perspectives of time actually coming in at reasonable moments, she just throws the time jumps in there. She does it even when it doesn’t make sense for the story, throwing us into a situation where we experience a start to mid-point telling from one character and then jump all the way back to a start to mid-point for another character entirely.
Not to mention the fact that Nichol was in such a rush to tell the story she wanted that the beginning of both these characters’ ‘starts’ is basically just jumping from one moment to the next with little continuity other than the fact that whatever came next could be assumed to have come after what was written before. But these giant jumps ahead in time that were not attributed to time travel itself were ridiculous.
A First Draft
Broken Shards of Time is what I would call a first draft that has only been through the copy-editing portion of the publication process. This book still needs major amounts of structural and developmental editing. I honestly feel like it really didn’t get any of that. And while this is a comment to Nichol’s writing itself, it’s more of a comment to whoever was supposed to be doing the structural and developmental editing.
Nichol is young and therefore it makes sense that her story would lack a lot of writing elements that you expect of a more experienced writer. That said, I expect an editor to be more experienced as well. And I’d expect them to have spent a lot more time working with Nichol to really flesh out the narrative structure and ideal plot outline of the book. There needed to be a lot of edits to remove the issues with exposition. Many cuts needed to be made and a lot of the story needed to be reorganized.
This is good as a draft. But it needs a lot more work if it’s going to live up to the potential of its premise.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.