Wednesday, February 16, 2011

REVIEW: "Exchange" by Dale R. Cozort

Sharon Mack has volunteered to help with the latest "exchange" happening in her town of Rockport. She's heard stories of what this alternate dimension contains: deadly monkeys, huge bears, out-of-place kangaroos, and various other strange and deadly creatures. If she can survive the two weeks until this block of land is returned to its own dimension, then she'll be in good shape. Unfortunately, she hadn't counted on her violent exhusband kidnapping their special needs daughter, or her repeated encounters with the convicts who had managed to escape to this alternate world during an exchange two years ago. Add in the mysterious cult members and some marines, and Sharon has a lot more to contend with than she expected. What will happen when the dimensions exchange places again? In which dimension will Sharon stay?

Written by Dale R. Cozort, this novel contains a truly unique concept- that of periodic "exchanges" of land with an alternate dimension. With just a day or so of preparation time, these exchanges may be routine, but they are fraught with immense danger and interesting potential. I loved this concept! It's fascinating to think of the possibilities in alternate dimensions colliding on a periodic basis. The repercussions of huge tracts of land in different dimensions "exchanging" with one another are potentially devastating for both dimensions. This concept is truly the strongest point of this novel, and the underlying storyline does maintain interest level until the end. You won't know in which dimension Sharon remains until the last few pages, and you just may be surprised at what you find out.

Although I really enjoyed the overall idea behind the book, there were several things I didn't like about the story. The characters didn't feel well-rounded to me, and the dialogue didn't ring true. I felt that almost any piece of dialogue (with the exception of Bethany's short blurbs) could have be said by a number of other characters. I didn't get a good feel for characters by the things they said. So much of the novel consists of conversation back and forth, so it was difficult to immerse myself into this novel when the characters sounded so much like one another to me.  I didn't get a lot of emotional depth from the characters, and that left the characters feeling one-dimensional and unrealistic. Additionally, the matter-of-fact dialogue tended to mask some of the quick changes in scene with various characters entering and exiting, and I found myself rereading passages in several places to get a grip on what had just happened.

The plot is full of twists and turns- so many that you just sort of give up on doing any guessing, and just read the words on the page. There is a twist at the end that is very unexpected and really thought-provoking, but I felt the details behind this twist were explained too many times by too many people. I think tightening up the conversations between characters, some of the twists, and making the ending more succinct would have made this book more powerful. Overall, I love the concept behind this story, and that made it worth the read to me.

3 /5 stars

Available at Amazon and Stairway Press

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