Bounty by J.D. Cunegan
Warning: Contains violence.
Bounty by J.D. Cunegan is a mix of mystery and superhero fiction. Jill Anderson, detective with the BPD (Boston Police Department), is not all that she appears to be. When a well-known scientist specializing in cybernetics is found murdered, Jill has more to worry about than just catching the killer. Past meets present and Jill finds herself caught in the middle as she tries to solve the crime while keeping her secret superhero identity, Bounty, just that… a secret.
While this book had a lot of promise, it definitely required a few more rounds of serious editing before it was ready for publishing.
Starting off, I’ll talk a little about the biggest problem area for me, and that was the writing. I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to charge people money for something, it should be the best product you’re capable of putting out. Unfortunately, I found a lot of glaring errors and typos, sentences missing words and some sentences that seemed cut off mid thought. All of that could have easily been spotted and fixed with some careful read-throughs and edits. There were also a couple of inaccuracies that I picked up on (i.e. one chapter mentions the main character did two tours in Iraq, and a few chapters later it says she only did a single tour), as well as a lot of descriptors being overused and some awkward phrasing. Another thing that did bother me throughout was the fact that around every corner it was pointed out that the main character, Jill, was stubborn and strong-headed. If it wasn’t mentioned in passing, a character was saying it – I spent a lot of the book waiting to see it for myself. Despite all of this, I will say that the novel does pick up speed at the halfway point and these errors become a little less noticeable.
The dialogue was done well for the majority of it, though sometimes the characters would say things that seemed a little out of character for them, or say something that had little relevance to what was going on. There were also some stilted conversations. Overall though, this aspect was generally done well, especially as the novel moves further along.
Moving on to the plot, I’m slightly on the fence with this one. On one hand, it is an interesting concept and it did pick up eventually leading to an exciting end. On the other hand, I found the jumping around on the timeline to be rather confusing. It would go from present day, to five years ago, back to the present, then twenty-something years ago, then the present, then two weeks ago… It was a little all over the place to the point where I was finding it hard to determine just where in the timeline we were supposed to be. I didn’t understand the importance of some scenes and there were scenes that left a lot of dangling questions that were never brought up again, things that I think would have been important in knowing the backstory of the characters.
The characters are another thing I’m on the fence about. On the one hand, I didn’t hate them. On the other hand, I didn’t really care what happened to them. I wasn’t invested in their lives and they didn’t seem real to me. I didn’t get to know them overly well and what I did found out didn’t go much further than the surface. I think the main problem was the fact that the reader is *told* a lot about the characters, about their various traits, but a lot of it isn’t then backed up with the character’s actions or thoughts. The one thing that was done well was the father-daughter relationship between Jill and her father – I ended up being more invested in this plot line than any of the others.
As this was a mystery/superhero crossover, I decided I would talk a little on both aspects. On the mystery front, I found that once things picked up it got a little more interesting. However, due to all of the other things going on, I didn’t find myself as engaged in figuring out the who and why as I normally would when reading a mystery. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since this isn’t classified as solely a mystery novel, but I think it could have been filled with a little more intrigue. I also feel some players were revealed a little too early and by the end, I was still left with a lot of questions, especially in regards to the motivations of some characters heavily involved. I realize there will be a sequel, but the way things have been left leave me wondering if Jill even cared to find out what those motivations were and unsure if they will ever get addressed, especially as I feel these were important questions to answer in this first novel.
Unfortunately, the superhero portion of the novel was the second biggest issue I had with Bounty. It was an interesting idea and there’s always room for a good vigilante, but again it all comes back to the telling without any supporting actions. The reader is told about how Jill, as Bounty, is a superhero, fighting crime on the streets and keeping the city safe… but there is not one instance of that actually happening in the novel. Not once. We see Bounty tracking down two bad guys who she wants to get information from, beating them up with not even the slightest hesitation, and then leaving without any information. We see her fight for her life against someone, but not once did we see her save someone else’s life. Not once did we see her protect the innocent – we’re just told that she does and are supposed to accept that. I think if there had been some scenes in which we see Bounty protecting the city as she claims she has, I would be much more accepting of her title as superhero. Also, her weapon of choice – a katana – seemed a little odd to me and that wasn’t explained until about 70% of the way through. I would definitely suggest that if edits were to take place, this explanation be moved closer to the beginning.
Summing up, I found the novel to have a lot of interesting ideas and lots of potential, but it is clear that it requires more editing and rewrites. There were too many errors for me to truly enjoy the read, but with the appropriate changes, I could see this earning a much higher rating.
Entertainment Value: 2.5/5
Average Overall Rating: 2.3/5
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