Book Jacket

 

rank 4567
word count 44701
date submitted 15.10.2013
date updated 12.12.2013
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Come...
classification: moderate
complete

Soul Survivor

Greg Lewis

An anarchic tale of humans and animals battling against the phobias they acquire through reincarnation and asking themselves who is the man with the notebook?

 

If you're looking for answers to life's great mysteries: why are we here? what is the purpose of life? why do old people wait till lunchtime to go to the post office? Then this book may not be a lot of help. However, if you'd like to know what connects an escaped lion, a transvestite stuntman, a pigeon with vertigo, an agony aunt, a paranoid fish, a road protester and a jigsaw addict with a strange little man in a trench coat, then this could be the book for you...

 
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tags

anarchic, animals, comedy, comic, death, england, fun, funny, humor, humour, mystery, reincarnation, suspense

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19 comments

 

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Alastair Miles wrote 186 days ago

CLOG Review
I'm a bit late to the CLOG review party for this book so I definitely run the risk of restating at least some of what has been written before.

In short, this is a rough diamond. I really do like much of the humour and the ideas. The concept of individual stories in chapters bound together is a very clever one and they do come over as unique. Like all rough diamonds this story does need a fair amount of polishing to get it to really shine, both in terms of writing and the framework of the story. It could also do with being longer. But the hard part, the inspiration, is all there, even if I'm afraid there's quite a bit more perspiration to come. It's not quite ready for a backing yet, but if you keep working at this I'd love to give it another go. Have some high stars to be getting on with.

I dipped into the first four chapters and, having glanced at the other reviews, it looks like I'll certainly be reading Chapter 5 about a pigeon with vertigo. I have to say that the animal perspectives are one of the things I like most about this book, it's something I haven't come across much of and I like it as a recurring theme in this book. The dog, Ben, is probably my favourite.

I echo the points made that the mystery of the man with the notebook does need a lot more exposition sooner in the story.

I jotted down a few random thoughts before just enjoying the read…

Not relevant to writing but I like your cover picture – shame there aren't some friendly letters (denoting title and author) to accompany the man on the cover.

The pitch is amusing. The longer pitch/back cover does need expanding. How about a little more story detail?

I can't write down lots of editing advice, but just a few ideas:

The opening sentence, for me, would work better without the 'all round really' and as a standalone i.e. start a new paragraph afterwards (single sentence paragraphs may be frowned upon, I'm not sure, but I like them on occasion). I think you do need to look at where you can knock out words – this coming from someone who has been accused of being a bit wordy though!

Concealing that John is a lion is very clever, the reader does get the creeping idea something amiss. This opening needs to be tightened though, it goes on a bit too long. Like the ‘dungarees’ by the way.

I'd read some of the dialogue back to yourself, it doesn't seem entirely natural occasionally as you distort it to work in a joke e.g. I'd lose “Which all strikes me as a little more than a spot of bother.” It doesn't need to be said, the meaning and the humour is there without it.

Finally, I know you have suspend a bit of disbelief but some of the situations didn't strike me as entirely credible e.g. someone having to sneak up on a lion with a hyperdermic. In this case, I think you'd have to a bit creative as to how equipment failure led them into this situation. Situations tend to be funnier when the steps that led to them all seem entirely reasonable in isolation. I know this is difficult to do, I struggle with it myself, but I guess you have to try.

So here ends my rambling review. It was a pleasure to read this and, in all likelihood I'll be back, when time allows. Hopefully, I'll be a backer in the future. For now, I've got my eye on this, if not taking notes in a trilby and a mac (a top hat is more my style…).

Regards, Alastair
Going Afterlife

Etienne Hanratty wrote 193 days ago

Soul Survivor

CLOG review

I'm not sure how to pitch this review so I suppose I should start by saying I liked it. It has some of the best jokes on Authonomy and the revelation about John at the start of chapter one is brilliantly done. I was genuinely taken back, and I loved the way you presented the scene from various perspectives. The way you introduced the mysterious man with the clipboard was also very effectively done.

That said, Soul Survivor still reads like it's an edit or so from being ready. You're obviously a funny chap, and a decent writer to boot, but I did feel you perhaps focused a bit much on trying to prove it and this, for me, got in the way of the action. The excerpt I read had enough decent jokes to populate three novels and I wonder if you might be better eking them out rather than using them all up at once. If I'm honest, my mind had started to wander a bit after Inspector Parish showed up; I think chapter 1 would've worked better if you'd made it snappier. Subdividing the chapters might be an option. What I will say is you managed to pull me back in with chapter 2. And I feel compelled to say that you don't need to explain the joke in the prologue; the version in the short pitch is funnier.

I'm being harsh, but only because you've got a real talent. Give this a bit of a tweak and you could have something spectacular.

carol jefferies wrote 195 days ago

Soul Survivor

This is a CLOG Review

Reading the pitches promises original and comical stories.

The prologue was amusing with the observation of why old people wait till lunchtime to go to the Post Office.

The strength of your writing appears to be your ability to surprise the reader. Needless to say, I was surprised that John was a lion. I suppose the name threw me, and I did wonder why he was living in an institution. After finding this out the fact that the workers wear dungarees made sense. The predicament of the Zookeeper and Inspector to capture John is imaginatively written. Although it appears rather inapt I could imagine it’s not too far from the truth. Much of the humour is understated and I especially enjoyed phrases, such as, ‘considering the small extent of the lion population in the surrounding area he (the lion) did not think it necessary to request further details of the lion’s appearance. I could just imagine this would be part of the written procedure on recapturing an escaped animal. Also the Inspector applying shoe polish to his face is funny. I liked the way a further character, the elderly Mrs Fosdyke, compounds the situation by leaving her glasses at home so is unable to see no further than three foot. Attention to details like the arrival of the ice-cream van adds more hilarity to the setting. Tension certainly builds as the men attempt to recapture John.

The second chapter or story centres around a film shoot. Again the attention to details like the door that wobbled the set every time it was closed is comical, and I bet not too far from the truth in low budget productions such as this. No wonder Tony is worried about being the stunt man if he is so much taller than the actress he is meant to be representing. I liked the comparison between father and son, and Tony’s lifelong phobia of guns.

Being a dog-lover, I think chapter three is my favourite story out of the three that I read. When Ben is described scratching himself, I wasn’t so surprised to discover that he was a dog. I liked this chapter as it is written entirely from Ben’s POV. The comparison of man to dog makes entertaining reading. Bill’s character is authentically described, as well as other characters. The dialogue is effective. Little is written about the settings, but this would distract the reader from what was happening in the story.

This style of writing is visual and quirky, and I think it would do very well in a situation comedy for television.

Good luck with it and high stars.

Carol Jefferies
Diary of a Bad Queen
The Witch of Fleet Street

Colleen MacDougall wrote 202 days ago

Soul Survivor – Greg Lewis - Chapters 1 to 3 -
This novel’s narration is quirky and ironic and the premise is intriguing. Everyone is curious about the afterlife, so this is a great vehicle for humorous enlightenment. You’re a good writer with vivid imagery and snappy dialogue. Loved scenes like John’s observations of people’s reactions to him, or the stuntman’s ‘outing’ during a wardrobe change. Soul Survivor has great potential for the commercial market; I would have loved to read more than my wussy self could, so please take my feedback with a grain of salt and do what you think is best.

The cover and title are eye catching and drew me in when I was surfing the system. I love animal stories, so that was the clincher. The short pitch could stand alone, it so succinctly describes the novel, but it is a run on sentence in need of punctuation.

The funny bits that open the long pitch encapsulate your humorous narrative, but are a little long – consider reducing this to two questions. Yes, as a reader, I did wonder what connects all the characters mentioned, but that wraps it up a bit cryptically for me. Maybe a hint of the reincarnation phobias here could help.

The first chapter gives us John’s story and it’s a delightful surprise when he turns out to be a lion. This opening scene might have more impact if we knew this a little earlier. To describe his attack on Martin as an ‘onslaught’ minimizes it and I worry it misses an opportunity for an unforgettable start to hook the average reader.

Unfortunately, I’m not one, but an overly soft-hearted animal lover. Once I began to love and root for John and his adventures around town, when they called for a marksman I had to skip parts. I’ve never read the end of War Horse, et al. There’s a scene in Friends where Phoebe walks in on the end of Old Yeller and cries, “What kind of sick doggie snuff film is this?” Couldn’t read the demise of Ben in chapter three either *hangs head*

I’m fine with people dying, so this review skips around -- but I did enjoy reading the non-fatal animal parts!

I'll make a few editing suggestions based on lessons I learned from a great book called, ‘Self Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition’ that I’d recommend for you. It’s by Harper Collins editors Browne & King and helped me overcome my wordiness, which is my general feedback for you. Editors, agents and publishers want manuscripts as clean and lean (and error free) as possible.

Some of their best advice is to economize words -- don’t use five if two will do. Things like “why he should have chosen” could read “why he chose.” You have six ‘hads’ in the paragraph beginning, “The whole thing had begun...” Repetition can become monotonous. Take care not to over explain or repeat things in the same sentence or paragraph but using different words. Tightening the manuscript will speed up the flow.

There is a lot of exposition, detailed descriptions of settings of each scene, in the three opening chapters. If they aren’t integral to the plot or character development, I’d consider trimming them. Especially in the opening chapters, you want to keep the pages turning quickly to hook readers on the plot.

There are run-on sentences in need of punctuation like, “The ‘caterers’ were(,) according to two different theories(,) either…”

Maybe it’s a British thing, but in Canada we would use a comma in the places marked in brackets: “…understand what you mean(,)” he faltered…” or “place you’ve never visited(,)” explained Nathan…”

Long paragraphs can be difficult to read and cause the eye to wander. Studies show readers will read the first few sentences, skip the middle, then read the last sentence, missing important info in between. I’d consider splitting up a few of the following from chapter two: “Ben reassured himself…” “Although he…” and “Wally and Ben wandered…” and “Wally scanned…”

If the manuscript was run through Word's spell check program with grammar and style functions enabled, it’d catch many of these things and ensure all sentences flow as smoothly and easily as possible.

Authonomy has lots of critique groups on the forum that will help you exchange feedback and get your novel read, given a star rating, and put on people’s watch lists or backed. We have an "Animal Crackers Book Club" you might be interested in joining - I'll put the link down below.

Read swaps will help your book move up in the rankings to a spot it well deserves. With editing this intriguing and enjoyable novel will only get better than it already is.

Lots of stars coming your way
All the best and good luck with your book
Colleen
The Patron Saint of Dogs

Animal Crackers Book Club link on the forum:
http://authonomy.com/forums/threads/144733/animal-crackers-book-club-acbc-/

Temulkar wrote 203 days ago

CLOG FFF Review.

Hi Greg Happy New Year.

I read the first four chapters and then went back to see what I said last time. I still think with the first vignette you should start later but it felt a lot cleaner than last time, more polished if that makes sense.

You have a very clever idea which wasnt really apparent when I did the c1 review. In fact it's brilliant but I think you need give something back a bit sooner. When he is confronted by Paul in c4 that could be an oppurtnity to reveal a little more than you do. You sort of chose the right point to allow the interaction but because death is coming more can be said.

I actually read up to c6 because I was enjoying it. Reading Otters points, I think I agree, the smiling line is good once or twice but does start to wear a bit thin. The humour is sharp although again I would like to see more delivered through dialogue but thats a personal preference I think.

I actually really enjoyed this, more this time than with the initial read. Ive just upped your stars to 5 and Im going to keep it on my watchlist.

Otter wrote 204 days ago

CLOG: FFF Review Soul Survivor

I enjoyed this the first time I read it. Coming back for a second read, I am pleased to say that the sparkle remains.

This is a nice take on re-incarnation.Not one that takes a protagionist and brings him back as someone famous, or someone whose character is dramatically different. A range of short stories, involving humans and animals with one commonality - the funny geezer with the notebook.

The stories are quirky, amusing for the most part. While each story held me, the link starts to wear slightly thin, though at the end of the fourth the little twist that the little man had been found out does rejuvenate my interest.

Chapter 5 is a gem. A pigeon with vertigo - not to be expected or desirable if you are a pigeon.

All in all, this is one of those books that grows on you. The more you read, the more you being to appreciate the subtle humour, the premise of phobias from one existence carrying through to the next - often with hilarious results.

I suspect if I had this on paper and able to read it away from the pressure of reviews and commenting I would enjoy it immensly.

Well done. A highly enjoyable read.

Gergle wrote 224 days ago

I've just looked further into the chapters and can see by chapter ten you finally have a character who continues on the next chapter and move into the plot a bit more. I would have liked to see this by about chapter three ideally. Just a suggestion, and it might just be my preference. Hope this is helpful.
Michelle



Michelle,

Thanks for your comments. There is an explanation at the end that ties all the chapters together. I am concerned that the reader may lose interest before then and that just the clipboard man isn't enough to create the link. Maybe it's him I need to develop more in each chapter.

Thanks you've given me something to think about... (other views welcome!)

Greg

Michelle Richardson wrote 224 days ago

I've just looked further into the chapters and can see by chapter ten you finally have a character who continues on the next chapter and move into the plot a bit more. I would have liked to see this by about chapter three ideally. Just a suggestion, and it might just be my preference. Hope this is helpful.
Michelle

Michelle Richardson wrote 224 days ago

Clog Review- I find the voice in this book very quirky, and I loved the twist in the first chapter. There are a few places where I think it needs more commas but this does not distract too much from the story. My main concern was that 5 chapters in, there is no real plot, but rather five individual stories linked by the subject of reincarnation/death.
The idea of a small man holding a clip board makes me smile every time I think of it but I would ideally like to see just a couple of main stories and follow them on a journey. This may be what you in fact do at a later stage, although by five chapters in, you would already have lots of central characters to weave together,
Overall, I enjoyed the tone, theme and voice in your writing, I was just left confused by the individual short stories that don't seem to be leading anyway at the moment.
Will keep on my WL to see where this goes - you've certainly got my interest.
Michelle - 43 Primrose Avenue

Belinda Walker wrote 261 days ago

CLOG review
A very enjoyable read. The SP and LP both work well and the opening chapter is also well-written and amusing. The style of the writing is quite visual - the scenes depicted come to life easily in the imagination. The first chapter was startling - great idea and an excellent way to start the story as I really wanted to know what happened next.
Much of the comedy is understated and this works well. e.g his reaction to thinking he was in heaven
I will now be seriously worried if I see a man with a notebook anywhere near me!
My only critcism would be the line spacing - but that is such a minor thing. I just felt a bit daunted when faced with a huge block of text. All in all very well done and definately shows loads of promise - should do well here and certainly deserves to.

Gergle wrote 273 days ago

Following feedback I have added a prologue, which is not something I'd ever thought about before. I'd be interested in knowing if this adds anything.

Thanks,

Greg
Soul Survivor

Gergle wrote 280 days ago

Hi Temulkar,

Thanks for the little CLOG (and the stars). You've given me lots to think about. I'll try to return the favour soon and look forward to hearing more from you.

Thanks,

Greg

Temulkar wrote 281 days ago

Short CLOG review.

I think the LP and SP work and capture the interest and the cover is excellent.

Chapter 1.

I'm a punctuation failure so no help from me there, but the prose read well so I didn't notice any mistakes. The dialogue is good and made me chuckle but there should certainly be more of it. I think its well paced when there is conversation but when we go back to the inner monologue in John's head it slows the interest down for me.

I would personally start the chapter with the line 'Dolfodder High Street was never the most exciting place...' because its when the action starts. For me the humour was in the conversations and the reactions to the lion and it gives the opening a bang.

The last paragraph is very long.

Only a quick review and I will watchlist/4 stars for some funny dialoguue and come back for a full review when your FFF.

Morven James wrote 281 days ago

CLOG Initial review
Soul Survivor, Greg Lewis:
Great cover - very eyecatching. The first chapter was a good read, some very funny phrases. Loved the Help the Aged reference - presumably as all carnivores go for the young or vulnerable - the elderly was a wise choice! I rather liked the beginning, not allowing us to know that John was a lion, however, I felt there was too much use of "John".
I took a quick look at the second chapter - now have I got this wrong, or are they related short stories?
This promises to be a good read, look forward to reading more. WL
Morven James
The Buck Stops Here

Michelle Richardson wrote 285 days ago

I only stopped by as a member of CLOG to take a peek and read the first chapter quite by mistake, lol. Without giving too much away the opening chapter was very clever. I especially liked the the comment about John being interested in Help the aged. This is on my WL and I look forward to reading more when its reviewed on Clog properly.
Michelle - 43 Primrose Avenue

Gergle wrote 285 days ago

Thanks for the encouragement Norman. I was concerned about the misleading edge to the first few paragraphs but you've helped to set my mind at rest. If/when you read more please let me know i there's anything that needs changing or rethinking.

I'll be sure to take a look at Con-Quest

Thanks,

Greg

Clog Review: Soul Survivor

Just a short review of a short read to kick off your joining CLOG.

The initial pargraphs had me picturing John as someone derranged, living in a mental institution - when you reveal that the institution was a Zoo and John a lion - that got a laugh and instantly hooked me to read further.

The charachters drawn in the opening chapter are likeable, funny - from the concerned Zoo Keeper, to inspector 'Closueau' Parish and the other players. The park scene is a laugh from start to finish - easy to visualises.

When John meets his well written demise I wondered was the last bit about the man with a notebook an error, a quick scan of futher chapters and the error is repeated - I think I like where this is going.

From my viewpoint, the comedy is unforced, very much tied to the characters and the scenes. Though the situation borders on farce, you handle it welll - striding that delicate line. As a reader, I found myself eager to know what happens next.

It is going to be hard not to make comparisons between this and Afterlife.

Good stars for my first read of a comedy that has a real storyline.

Norman Morrow
The Con-Quest of Father Brennan






Otter wrote 285 days ago

Clog Review: Soul Survivor

Just a short review of a short read to kick off your joining CLOG.

The initial pargraphs had me picturing John as someone derranged, living in a mental institution - when you reveal that the institution was a Zoo and John a lion - that got a laugh and instantly hooked me to read further.

The charachters drawn in the opening chapter are likeable, funny - from the concerned Zoo Keeper, to inspector 'Closueau' Parish and the other players. The park scene is a laugh from start to finish - easy to visualises.

When John meets his well written demise I wondered was the last bit about the man with a notebook an error, a quick scan of futher chapters and the error is repeated - I think I like where this is going.

From my viewpoint, the comedy is unforced, very much tied to the characters and the scenes. Though the situation borders on farce, you handle it welll - striding that delicate line. As a reader, I found myself eager to know what happens next.

It is going to be hard not to make comparisons between this and Afterlife.

Good stars for my first read of a comedy that has a real storyline.

Norman Morrow
The Con-Quest of Father Brennan






Gergle wrote 287 days ago

Thanks for comments. I was hoping to surprise with the first few paragraphs but maybe the effect doesn't work as well as intended... I'll take a look at the other edits. Please keep feedback coming!

After the first chapter I can't wait to read more. The first paragraphs on the first read, were a little more confusing than perhaps intended, it took a second read (after reading the rest of the chapter) to get my head around it. But that might just be me.
Dose, should be written as dose. And I'm not sure 'a brief while' works. Can you have a brief while?
Otherwise, laugh out loud at points! Hopefully I'll get around to reading more!

Cakey wrote 287 days ago

After the first chapter I can't wait to read more. The first paragraphs on the first read, were a little more confusing than perhaps intended, it took a second read (after reading the rest of the chapter) to get my head around it. But that might just be me.
Dose, should be written as dose. And I'm not sure 'a brief while' works. Can you have a brief while?
Otherwise, laugh out loud at points! Hopefully I'll get around to reading more!

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