Book Review
Book Reviews

Book Review: The Lady Who Loved Lightning

A book with space sex and lots of alcohol.

Book Review

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I had such high hopes for this book. Really, I did. It had a gorgeous cover, positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Plus, it’s the fourth in a series. Nobody gets to number four in a series without a really good story arc, right? (“Oh, Ditrie,” I can hear some of you saying. “You’re so innocent and naive.”)

I absolutely cannot speak for the other books in this series. Maybe they’re outstanding and this novel is a fluke.  Perhaps by not reading them first, I’m missing out on something. And that is the ONLY reason I’m not giving this book a rock-bottom rating.

The Lady Who Loved Lightning, by Robert A. Sullivan could have been much better. Here’s how.

Dialogue Tags

The sheer variety of dialogue tags in this book is mind-numbing. If you’re not sure what a dialogue tag is, it’s the word at the end of a quote that lets you know a character is speaking. They are words like said, asked, croaked, hollered, etc. Ideally, dialogue tags within a story are invisible. The reader briefly recognizes them as speech markers and moves on in the text. But when you have a dialogue tag that calls attention to itself, it breaks the flow of the narration and conversation. It creates a momentary hiccup in the pacing. This is an excellent technique to use SPARINGLY for special effects. But when it’s abused over and over throughout the course of an entire novel, it slows down the narrative until it’s nearly unreadable.

Adverbs

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with using adverbs. For anyone needing a refresher, an adverb is a word that describes how an action (verb) is done. They’re like adjectives for verbs. And adverbs usually end in -ly. You’ll find adverbs most often paired with common, plain, or weaker verbs. Too many adverbs is a sign of poor verb choices.

Observe. Which is more enticing?

  • She walked sultrily to the bar.
  • She sauntered to the bar.

It’s the second one, right? Using powerful and specific verbs avoids adverb abuse. This book, however, does not. In fact, there are even adverbs in most of the dialogue tags. Which is— why would you do this?

Plot?

In the book’s defense, many of these characters are carrying on a storyline that started earlier in the series. From what I can tell, that longer story arc includes time travel and other nifty technology. But this novel? It’s classified as a science fiction novel, but it reads like a failed stab at erotica. There are a bunch of people in space. They get drunk a lot and have sex. Much cheating ensues.

Oh yeah, and they find a planet, one of the leaders is going to be put on trial for something, and for some reason, they decide to tow a giant moon over to the planet they found to make it spin slower? Science aside, the plot is thin, and there is a lot of talking about nothing with equal amounts of nothing being done. But at least there’s tennis and surfing? And apparently, they set up mines at some point. No idea who the miners are since apparently these like 6-8 people are isolated in the middle of nowhere. And they’re sworn to secrecy about something.

Misogyny

Where do I begin? Every woman character is objectified at some point throughout this story. There’s a lot of butt slapping and undue emphasis on how tone said body parts are. And there’s actually a scene where a woman punishes her lover by waving her breasts at him to remind him of what he won’t have? If this were erotica, that might make some sense. Maybe. But there is some pretty well-written erotica out there with fantastic plots and zero misogyny. It can be done.

Every woman character in this book is portrayed as possessive, jealous, controlling, and absurdly attractive. The men characters, who are never physically described, constantly complain about women being in charge. They state outright how men can never win with women.

And evidently, these characters procured the best timeline via their earlier time travel expeditions in other books. But somehow, the men feel threatened and oppressed by women while simultaneously changing them around like underwear? And the relationship changes are abrupt with zero discussion between affected members except for an ‘oh, by the way’ after the man has conquered someone else. This isn’t a case of clearly established and respectful polyamory. It’s 100% objectification for the sole purpose of men’s pleasure.

And yes, there are trysts between women, but nothing similar between any of the men.

Actions and Transitions

There aren’t a whole lot of either. The majority of this story consists of dialogue between characters who are quoting other books, plays, songs, and shows. And there are a LOT of main characters to keep up with, but their personalities are almost interchangeable. Several times a scene starts out on one ship with a couple of characters exchanging dialogue and then suddenly there are more characters (who either are or aren’t on the ship) that butt into the conversation. It’s difficult to keep track of where everyone is. Oftentimes it feels like everyone’s on a cruise ship having one, big, long, drunken conversation interspersed with orgies.

I believe this book could benefit from a solid rewrite, professional editing, and a handful of sensitivity readers. It should also probably rebrand as erotica— but only if some sensitivity readers guide the process. Otherwise, I cannot in good faith recommend this book. I’m still putting the Amazon ad at the end so you can see the beautiful cover and read what other reviewers on Amazon have said.

 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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