Hey everyone! Here is an in-depth review of a self-published eBook called Squid’s Grief. If you like the movie Blade Runner, dystopians, and character-driven novels, you should absolutely pick this guy up (or download it, rather 😉 )!
Title: Squid’s Grief
Author: DK Mok
Length: 356 pages
Synopsis: Baltus City is a futuristic hub in the middle of a dystopian world. Within the sprawling metropolitan, gangs vie for power, none more notable than the one lead by the recluse, Pearce, or the one led by his enemy, a smart forward-thinking woman named Verona. Caught between their constant warring is a young girl nicknamed Squid- downtrodden and stuck in a never-ending cycle of bad choices and bad people.
Squid has managed to stay just barely afloat in her life of crime with help from a not-yet-jaded police officer named Casey, but when a job goes wrong and she becomes guardian to an amnesiac named Grief, her world is turned upside down. Squid and Grief have to navigate the poisonous city to not only find his identity, but also find her salvation in the trash and scum that the gangs leave in their wake. Alone, they may have failed, but together, they may finally succeed.
Impression: This is DK Mok’s third novel, and I really am a believer in the fact that the more full novels an author writes, the better they get. This is a superb self-published novel, and Mok’s experience shows. I honestly went snooping around a lot because I didn’t believe that it actually was self-published. Mok has mastered alternate points of view, as seen in the five (maybe more) POVs that are used. Each character has a different voice. I feel like this is such a hard thing for a new author to master and Mok certainly has control over this technique. It made the novel very personal and the audience easily becomes invested in the characters. I especially liked the fact that the main character, Squid, is far from a strong character, but she’s still a compelling female lead. After the popular hullabaloo about strong female leads (and that’s a discussion for a different day), Squid is refreshing and real. I didn’t like her (purely based on personal preference… I wouldn’t want to be her friend), but I wanted to know her story. And the fact that I put that much thought into a character is proof just how great this book is.
I loved the cop Casey and her voice. I think she was so real and so at odds with Squid’s character. They were so different and yet their friendship was genuine. Even the interactions between the lesser characters were very real and the dialogue actually made me laugh at one point. Who says humor can’t be used effectively in fantasy??
The cover art is also beautiful and really puts the reader in the right frame of mind for the setting of the story. I think the only thing that put me off throughout the novel was that the sections of narration of each character were all rather short. It works for an eBook because it makes the reader think they’ve read more than they have (for whatever reason I thought this was a nice touch since you don’t have a physical book to grade your progress), but the sections were a bit too short. They weren’t full enough scenes for me, and I feel like the ones at the beginning of the novel should’ve been condensed. Some of Casey’s scenes, while interesting, were so short that I felt I didn’t get a feel of her as an actual character. Same with Verona and Grief. Toward the end, the short scenes built up the tension wonderfully and really added depth to the book, however. So, I would only apply that comment towards the first 250 pages. I’m giving the book 4 feather pens because of the artful skills that completed this book and the fun storytelling, and I really hope DK Mok churns out some more books!
This is a fantastic novel full of fast-paced action. Even in a dystopian world, Mok has brought to life the downtrodden and the optimistic in a literary world where repression and doubt is fashionable.