I was slow to warm up to the idea of paying for a professional review. Not that I was concerned over the criticism, but I simply wasn’t comfortable with how marketing works in this industry. I’m learning and I’ll leverage this review for some promotional plans.
It’s good feedback too. Sort of reminds me of working with my editor. I can’t thank my friends enough who have posted online reviews for me. Those are like gold. But, not surprisingly, they contain very little criticism. That makes receiving professional criticism so much more interesting. I’ve posted my Kirkus review below, but first here is what I think about it.
There are two negative critiques. The point of some of my less-than-great writing examples doesn’t bother me. I rushed this novel with a first draft in 6 months and fully published in 9 months, with minimal editing while working my day job. I met my objective of getting a book on the shelf. Plus, that’s really just an example of my writing style that I am okay with. So no biggie. The criticism on my character development though stun a bit. Not just because I know it to be true. One of my lessons learned was that I’m weak in this area. Still, it hurts for the review to use my lead character to make this point. I was somewhat confident on my efforts describing my protagonist. It’s good criticism though.
I’m totally thrilled by the compliments. Clearly this reviewer appreciates the tech thriller genre but it made me feel pretty good to be told I did well describing technical detail through dialog. I initially used a large amount of narrative to describe highly complex topics and received negative feedback on this from my beta readers. I responded by rewriting it into dialog. To be fair, I deleted a great deal as well, but good to know my efforts were deemed successful by this reviewer. Especially since my target audience is technical. Below is the review.
Computer-security analysts stumble upon plans for a cyberstrike that could immobilize the United States in Mahoney’s debut thriller.
After a security breach involving user IDs, Cyber Business International’s investigators trace the source of the hack to one of its clients, the Arabian Nights Casino in Macau. Rob Warner, who leads CBI’s incident-response team, heads to the Asian territory to investigate. It turns out that Justin Peters, a CBI network administrator there, had been doing work for the casino when someone accessed his privileged user account and wreaked havoc. Rob, however, is suspicious of the casino’s director of cybersecurity operations, Edmund Ho; he may have a grudge against the casino that stems from his demotion after a cyberattack that crippled the local network by flooding it with traffic. Further investigation reveals other players, which leads CBI to predict a similar attack in the United States. But a larger conspiracy may be at play—which would explain why an assassin is targeting Rob. Mahoney’s acronym-laden technological jargon gives his novel an air of sophistication. For example, he intelligently defines terms such as “botnet” and “exploit kit” by context, generally via dialogue between Rob and others, such as Rob’s friend and colleague Bill Johnson. Myriad plot elements along the way keep the tale exciting, including the actions of an American spy and more than one hired killer and a Las Vegas–set final act in which many characters converge. Some oddly structured sentences slow the story down, though, as when Rob questions “flirting with guidelines, well ethics, shoot, the law, like he did in Macau.” The novel also includes little information about its protagonist’s personal life, although it’s abundantly clear that his job is putting a strain on his marriage.
A smart, highly detailed entry in the techno-thriller genre.
Kirkus reviews are known to be almost entirely a rehash of the storyline. I feel fortunate to receive as much commentary as I did. The final sentence is what I’ll be able to attach to book covers and other media to promote the book.