I found Storming by KM Weiland through a combination of Twitter and Goodreads. There was a lot in the Goodreads description of this book, which started with praise for it from readers. I would have preferred just to have to blurb about the book, the rest is what reviews are for, but, I scanned and finally found the description. It was interesting enough, I happen to have a soft spot for steampunk and the many offshoots, and particularly, I have a strong love of the ‘20s era, at least in the way of music and some of the style, not so much in the social culture; the slang can be pretty fun though, haha (don’t get me started..)
Anyway, I decided to give it a try since there were some fun elements involved.
I really wanted Storming to be more than it was and feel it could have been made stronger, but as is, it wasn’t what I hoped it would be.
One big thing I made note of from the start was the use of jargon in reference to flying the planes, which is a sizable part of the action in this novel. I think it’s very clear in reading this novel that KM Weiland is not overly familiar with flying airplanes, or with aircraft in general (if this is not true, I will be very surprised and must ask about some choices made). There is a heavy reliance on jargon and phrases used by those who are quite familiar with such things, most likely to enforce a sense of history and knowledge on the part of Hitch, who the story follows and is a pilot.
It makes sense for Hitch to know what he’s talking about and doing when it comes to planes and flying, but that doesn’t mean that an explanation and further description in layman’s terms wouldn’t be a good idea in a novel like this for the reader…who may not necessarily have that knowledge.
I lost track of the times I noted where this lack of knowledge in the author seems apparent. Information isn’t wielded with authority, and so there isn’t what feels like a wealth of knowledge to tap, it’s a string of jargon and passable sentences that show what the author wishes. She probably did a lot of research, and that’s great, but there needs to be more in the novel, at least for me. The opportunity was there, in particular, when Hitch is showing young Walter how to fly when they go up in the plane together for Walter’s first ride. The lack of familiarity weakened it for me, the jargon alone didn’t impress me when there is no other indication that the author has working knowledge of planes and flying that can be shared with the reader. I hazard to say it was almost confusing at times, and often had to resort to googling if I had any desire to actually understand what action was taking place. There were some wonderfully crafted lines that described the planes movement at times, but it was in part undercut by the lack of more intimate knowledge with the subject matter; the scene is interrupted when you have to lookup a term to understand the description…kind of kills the action.
The description of Walter’s first ride in the plane, whiche he so dearly wanted was heartwarming and well written. I enjoyed the scene, aside from aforementioned issues.
I was sorry to realize that I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters, mainly because I felt there was nothing to invest in with them. I had moments where I cared, instead of becoming more invested as the story progressed. This was in large part due to the pervasive feeling that the characters were there to act out a set script, the plot lines the author wanted to happen, instead of the story moving forward as a result of the actions and reactions of fully realized characters with their own set of thoughts and desires that fall within their personalities.
There were occasional scenes or lines that I appreciated, but in general they were few and far between. The rest of it was a collection of action scenes that I questioned or things I generally just didn’t buy, continuity issues sprinkled throughout, with a dose of, what I feel, is questionable dialogue.
Some examples include: you don’t lose a heavy accent within a couple of days by being around people that speak a native language that is not yours, as is the case, apparently, with Jael, the woman who drops out of the sky. Jael supposedly speaks another language as her native tongue, and though she might understand more English within a couple of days if she’s smart, and she might be better at the weird word placement English has in comparison with other languages, again if she’s smart, but you don’t lessen an accent within a couple of a days. It takes more time and a lot more conversation.
As for the dialogue, it was often far too pointed and scripted sounded. It screamed “I am dialogue!” I rarely felt like there was conversation going on, more a necessary interaction for the reader to understand the next point. There was also some very heavy handed talk of heroes, both in dialogue and not, that I personally wasn’t a fan of. It was a bit much for me, seemed like trying too hard. Walter, as a child, I could understand a bit more, but still, wasn’t a fan. None of it was particularly witty or funny, and I don’t remember anything standing out, which was a shame.
Even the drama seemed manufactured, such as the villain of the tale (or the man who pushed Jael out of Schturming,), named Zlo, and his demand for money from the town…there’s no explanation or context given for this desire. Zlo has been foraging, stealing, and generally taking what he wants or needs, both for him and the others (such as food, etc.,) as Schturming moves from place to place being completely contained in the air, aside from those let onto the ground to forage…again, there’s no reason for Zlo to value money, and it’s unclear what value he places on it.
The premise was interesting, which is why I was excited about starting Storming, but I was disappointed. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, or at all what I expected or hoped. With some more attention to detail and further development, I think it could be better, but as it, I’m not among the throng of people that are impressed and overjoyed with this novel.