Sunday 4 March 2012

Book Review - Nightingale & Guest Post: David Farland

I'll start off with the guest post and then put my review below. So here you go, let me introduce 'David Farland' author of 'Nightingale'

Reading in the Future
Imagine that you put on your “reading glasses.”  The glasses are dark, fitted with lasers and high-quality stereo earbuds, so that as you put them on, your entire field of vision is captured.  A laser inside the glasses flashes a novel title on the interior surface of your eye. 
Of course, the book you see is my book (why not, it's my fantasy). The letters start small, off in the distance and they quickly draw closer to you, but they don't stop, they wash right over you and just when it seems they're all around you, they explode in a burst of light, “Nightingale, by David Farland.”  You can hardly imagine what life was like before 3D. As soon as you read the last word, a laser with a computer link that tracks your eye movement cues the background music, and images begin to flash in your eye—a holographic video-clip of the character of Bron, as an infant, being abandoned outside the door of a cheap hotel in the Utah desert.  The camera pans up to the face of his mother, Sommer, bitter and broken, with tears in her eyes.  We flash to the prologue, where Sommer runs through a forest at night, her breathing deep, while dogs snarl and bark as they give pursuit.  Fireflies rise up around her.
Words to the novel appear on screen, as background music continues, and you begin to read.  As Sommer twists her foot and falls, the lasers pace your reading and insert a sound-effect—the thud of a body falling, the hiss of breath knocked from Sommer’s throat.  The dogs bay more excitedly.  A man’s heavy footsteps can be heard tromping through the brush behind the reader, and a startled mewling cry escapes Sommer’s throat. . . .
Welcome to the future of reading, where text, images, sounds and music forge a collage.  That’s the vision I have that led me to become a co-founder of East India Press.
The technology to do this already exists. The use of heads-up displays in fighter jets was pioneered in the 1960s, and that technology has now gone public.  Though readers now are using the iPad2 and the Kindle Fire, I’m looking forward to the devices we’ll have five years from now, or ten years.
How can reading technology be better than with current books?
We don’t want to replace reading. We don’t want to make movies.  Reading often engages the audience’s imagination in ways that movies fail to.  We want to keep it that way.  We want the reader to be a partner with us in bringing a tale to life.  At the same time, we hope to ‘enhance,’ the story, help readers become more fully involved with it, yet keep budgets reasonable.  With film clips, animations, illustrations, background music, and sound effects, we can create something that fuses a lot of storytelling tools.
Creating e-books has become cheap and easy.  This year, it is estimated that three million people will be putting their own e-books up for sale.   That’s a staggering number.  If you spend twelve hours a day just examining those titles, and spend only ten seconds studying each e-book put up this year, you wouldn’t be able to glance at even 1/100th of all the books that will be published—much less read one!
Readers are being deluged, often with books that aren’t any good.  Most of those books, unfortunately, wouldn’t have made it past an editor.  The author just wasn’t ready.  Sure, there will be a few diamonds among all of that coal, but no editor will have time to sort through it.
I've had my share of sorting through manuscripts.  For nearly a decade I was the first judge for one of the world’s largest writing contests.  A funny story, once an editor of a major publisher asked me to help pick a book to give the “big publicity push to” for the next year.  I read through thirty books and selected a book that the marketers thought was “too-long” for its intended audience.  I pointed out that the book was also written several grade levels too high for its intended audience. But it was a great book, so I urged them to push it despite the book’s apparent problems.  It was called Harry Potter.
Even though authors can publish their own works, we’re going to need editors in the future who understand how to green-light a novel, who can recognize what will please an audience.  But once a work is selected, the editor will take the role of a producer—assembling a creative team of composers, musicians, illustrators, animators, directors, sound-effects engineers, and so on.”
Distributing enhanced books won’t be expensive.  After all, it will be done electronically.  There are no copies to print, ship, or store.  But creating them will be expensive and time-consuming.  
Still, it will be a lot less expensive than making a movie.  To create a really great movie with a lot of special effects can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it will only give the viewer an hour or two of entertainment.  But by meshing technologies, we can create a similar experience with novels, spending perhaps only a hundred thousand or two—and it will give a reading experience that might last for twenty or thirty hours or more!  Novels have a unique ability to let us achieve deep penetration into the minds and emotions of a character, much more so than with a film.  I’m excited about the possibilities.
In fact, I am so excited about the possibilities that I went indie with this next novel. I didn't have to by any means. I'm an award-winning New York Times bestseller. Instead, I decided to start my own publishing company for enhanced novels.  I see potential. Nightingale is the first young adult novel I’ve written, outside of a little work with Star Wars and the Mummy.  I knew it could be a hit, but I wanted to do something . . . unique with it. I've trained dozens of other #1 international bestsellers, people like Brandon Sanderson and Stephenie Meyer, and I've learned to spot “good,” whether it's someone else's work or my own. Nightingale has it.
Now that it’s done, this is a first step toward creating a more-engaging form of novel, the kind that kids who are reluctant readers might devour.  I’m looking forward to see what we can do in ten or twenty years. But Nightingale is a step toward that future.
Nightingale is the story of a young man, abandoned at birth, rejected from foster home after foster home.  People see that he’s brilliant and talented, but also “strange.”  He’s the ultimate loner until he meets Olivia, a marvelously gifted teacher, who recognizes that Bron is something special, something that her people call a “Nightingale,” a creature not quite human.
I was excited to see how it would be received. I was even more excited when the first reviewer said, “I devoured the novel.  It was absolutely incredible! . . . I struggled to explain just how much I enjoyed it in my review. . . . After reading Nightingale, I don't think I will even be able to go back to reading regular e-books again.  Like it says in my review, reading the enhanced Nightingale felt like an ‘experience.’ It didn't feel quite like a book or a movie. It initiated all of my senses.  . . . enhanced ebooks are actually a real deal.” That's what we were hoping people would see in it. The future of books is beginning now.
Best of all, East India Press has created a new web simulation technology that mimics how the book appears on the iPad, so you can see and hear it for yourself for free at"

About David Farland

taken from his website  

David Farland is the international bestselling author of nearly fifty books, including such award-winning novels as the science fiction masterpiece On My Way to Paradise (Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award Winner, Best Novel in English Language) and the historical novel In the Company of Angels (Whitney Award Winner: Best Novel of the Year). He is best known though for his fantasy work, which includes the New York Times bestselling series The Runelords, and his lovable and wacky middle-grade fantasy series Ravenspell.

With Nightingale, Dave makes his first foray into creating his own young adult series. (Dave has written young adult novels for both the Star Wars and Mummy franchises as Dave Wolverton, but this is the first young adult universe that he's created for himself.)
In addition to writing novels, Dave has also worked in videogames on such international bestselling games as Starcraft: Brood Wars, and Xena: The Talisman of Fate.
More recently, Dave has worked in the film industry as a movie producer and a screenwriter. His screenplay for The Runelords in now in development for a major motion picture.
Throughout his career, Dave has worked extensively helping new writers through his work as coordinating judge of the Writers of the Future, as a creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University, and by teaching writing seminars. Many of his students have gone on to become some of the most successful writers of our time, including such #1 international bestsellers as Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, and Stephenie Meyer.
In 1999, Dave set the Guinness Record for the World's Largest Book Signing.

Book Review
Title: Nightingale
Author: David Farland
Publisher: East India Press
Release Date: December 2011
ASIN: B006292FMO
Bron Jones was abandoned as a newborn. Thrown into foster care, he is rejected by one family after another, until he meets Olivia, a gifted and devoted high-school teacher who recognizes him for what he really is -- what her people call a "nightingale."
But Bron isn't ready to learn the truth. There are secrets that have been hidden from mankind for hundreds of thousands of years, secrets that should remain hidden. Some things are too dangerous to know.
Bron's secrets may be the most dangerous of all.
 My Review
I was contacted by the publishing company and asked if I would like to review this book. It was sold to me as "an enhanced novel with more than a hundred full-color illustrations and animations; author’s notes and interviews; and its own 45-minute soundtrack. It is being hailed as the "first rock opera of novels," because it combines many types of art and technology, performing together."  I thought, that sounds really cool, I can't say no to that, my mind is just too curious. So I accepted the review. I was given a special code to access this 'enhanced' novel online. 
When I first loaded it I was surprised, I got a full colour cover with some eerie music playing on it and I was quite excited. You then get a page of illustrations and then a page with songs on,  you can click on a title and it will play, cool right?
Anyway I started to read, the prologue starts with a page of illustrations and some moving images, music, sound effects and a short introduction it looks incredible! Then you turn the page and it becomes an ordinary e-book.
Let's leave the awesome effects alone for a minute, the story itself was very gripping to start with, you get introduced to Bron and some of his past and start to feel a connection to him. You know he isn't all he seems but you can't figure out why. I like Olivia - Bron's foster mother, she seems quite cool and introduces a whole new world to him.
I got a little bit annoyed as I went through the book with girls throwing themselves at Bron, practically every girl that sees him drools. Despite popular belief that is not all that girls think about.
The story does progress at a good pace and there is a mix of adventure, mystery and a bit of what you could call magic, the character development is good and I really felt like Bron was changing as he learned more.
There is good graphics and music at the start of each chapter for quite a few, but towards the last third of the book, it's all stopped, just a simple title heading and a quote on a white page, it felt a bit like they had run out of steam. After being so impressive it went completely plain. It's not a big issue and ultimately didn't hurt my reading experience, it just seemed a little odd.
Throughout the book words or phrases would be highlighted, clicking on these would bring a small box up containing the authors thought or experience whilst he was writing the book. These were quite interesting to read but I also felt that it really slowed down the pace of the book, as I would be in the flow of reading and then get distracted and stop to read these anecdotes. As the novel went on I found myself just ignoring them.
I didn't get anymore music, pictures or sound effects the further I went into the novel and I'm not sure if that was how it was supposed to be or if my computer didn't load it properly, I don't know, but to be honest I didn't miss it that much. In fact I was secretly pleased as it meant I could move on through the book faster. At 424 pages this book is quite long and as I take a very long time to read e-books anyway this one did take me longer than usual. In fact I had it for a couple of months as I kept looking at other things or not making time for this. (Sorry to the publishers and David for the delay)
Overall the actual story itself was very good although I felt it got a little silly towards the end, there seems to be a little bit of a trend at the moment to introduce Lucifer or Satan as the villain in the book, I don't know why, it seems a little bit silly to me and also like they couldn't come up with their own villain and so have fallen back on this one, and I didn't quite believe it, but up to about 380 pages I did rather enjoy it.
If I was buying it I will admit that I would go for the ordinary version instead of the enhanced, for me it didn't wow me, others may think it incredible, but I just want to read the book, that's all, my imagination is strong enough to create the world and feel for myself.

I was glad I tried it though, it was very different. 

My Rating
I struggled a bit with this rating, parts of the book I 'really enjoyed' and I leant towards that as the rating, but overall I thought it was good but it didn't wow me and it took me a long time to read. I would recommend it if you like fantasy style books and obviously not everyone struggles with e-books like I do, so give it a go. 
It's just I expected to be wowed and I wasn't, sorry.

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