September 28, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Self-Publicated Book Plug: Andrew Ball's Contractor

I liked this one.


Last week I posted how many self-published books often come up short.  Comments from two self-published authors chimed in to say something I also mentioned, that there is good stuff out there among the self-published.  To that end, I’m going to make a semi-regular series on those occasions when I find a self-published book I actually enjoy.

And just for the record, my criteria for this is basically, “Was I entertained as I read this?”

Andrew Ball’s Contractor tells the story of high school student Daniel Fitzgerald.  One day he finds a frog-headed man that only he can see telling him that some powerful, other-dimensional alien race is coming to literally wipe out the human race from existence.  Probes have already been sent that latch onto people and eat their souls.  Once the soul is gone, the person will gradually cease to exist, erasing all traces of that person from reality.  To fight this, Daniel is offered a chance to become a contractor.  He’ll gain access to magic, and his power will grow as he kills the aliens.

Daniel initially refuses the offer, which the frog-man finds surprising.

Obviously, Daniel will accept the offer later, or else there’s no book here.  He gains a scrying power, super speed, and a few other things, and he’s off.

Now, the book itself may not be the most original ever, going with the whole “chosen one gains powers, saves the day” routine, but the book does have a few things really going for it.

First off, Ball can actually write a good action scene.  They were real page turners and I found the rhythm felt very good.

Second, Ball introduces a female character later on that would, in other works, become Daniel’s love interest before the book is over.  Ball actually does it with a different character, which was a nice change of pace.  I hope the first female character, while a potential ally, never moves into the area of “girlfriend” in the future, but so far, so good.

Third, Ball actually manages to do something a lot of the self-published books I’ve read avoided, which is create character growth through some rather well-written conversations.  Daniel starts off as what appears to be an anti-social jerk, someone with no friends who only really cares about his kid brother.  As time passes, the reader can see that Daniel really just has a very strong sense of right and wrong, something that pushes him to do the right thing, while often being a wiseass with a thing for bringing down the powerful through mean humor.  He doesn’t really like the status quo, so when the magical orders confront him over the fact that his gain-power-through-the-deaths-of-others makes him a monster, even while he’s busy saving lives, he has some words for them too.

Now, there are a few typos, and some of the dialogue of Daniel and his dorm buddies once he gets to college isn’t exactly PC, and may even come across as offensive to some, but it would be normal for an 18 year old guy in an all-guy environment.

So, bottom line, it was fun, exciting, and I’ll be reading the sequel when it comes out this fall.  Considering how this one ends, I really do want to see what happens next and how Daniel gets out of his current mess…quite a mess considering the sequel’s title is Prisoner.