Book Review: Turned by Morgan Rice

Turned by Morgan Rice

Preface: This book was loaned to me by a friend through the kindle system.

I was warned about this book before I started to read it. I was warned, and deep in my heart a nasty little voice whispered, “It can't be that bad.”

Yes, it can be that bad.

Note: This book made me angry.

The Characters

This is the first time in my life where I have read a book where I hated the main character so much that I wished she would meet the fate of any one of Martin's deceased characters. If she were put in Martin's books, and he killed her, I would read every last tome in A Song of Fire and Ice, and rejoice the day this character died.

Caitlin is the most shallow, conceited, two-faced character I have ever read that carries the mantle of ‘good'. This girl does it all. She betrays her family, she betrays her friends. She is a killer. She is shallow, and falls in and out of love faster than the average person changes underwear — and unfortunately, I mean this very literally. The other characters are just as bad — shallow, lacking development and depth, and just as prone to Cailtin to turn on those around them.

Turned, perhaps, isn't a reference to the state of becoming a vampire, but how petty all of the characters in Rice's world are, and how likely they are to turn on you.

I'd like to take a moment to say something true and dear to my heart. Something that will likely surprise many of you who know me and my feelings about the following:

Dear George R. R. Martin,

I apologize for disliking you. I still don't like your writing style. I don't like a lot of things about your world, but I have to give you credit. You create characters who are real. Sure, the good guys are cursed with stupidity, and I really can't get into your books, but I'll give credit where credit is due.

I may not like your books, but you have skills. You know how to use language. I may not like your choice of language, but so be it. That's my problem.

May it never be said that I don't recognize the good things even when my personal preferences get in the way.

Hope you forgive me.

~RJ

Characters often will salvage a book for me; bad writing, poor grammar, horrid word choice, all of these things can be forgiven with a character who feels real — with a character who manages to worm their way into my heart through some nefarious means. To be honest, when I first read Harry Potter, I couldn't stand Rowling, but I loved Harry.

He was real.

Caitlin is anything but. The supporting characters are anything but.

The characters alone were enough to ruin this book for me. For that alone, I recommend avoiding this book. You won't find a compassionate main character in this story. I didn't find any facet of her personality attractive. It isn't even a matter of tarnished silver. She's without remorse, and that makes her something that just can't be salvaged in my mind.

There is so much more I can say. This book covers every trope type; the abusive, hating mother, the mother's ex-boyfriend who wanted a dalliance with the young, sweet daughter… I'd go on, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

The characters just didn't make this book happen. If anything, they ruined the book for me with their attitude, lack of consistency, and complete lack of remorse. And, the characters who are good for something either run away or die.

The Writing

If I hadn't promised a friend I would read this book, I would have quit before the end of the first chapter. Morgan Rice has no control over language. She doesn't use words to evoke emotions and imagery. She abuses them, uses them in ways they weren't meant to be used. Her vocabulary needs work.

Most of all, she needs an editor. She needs an editor who will sit down with her and explain sentence structure, help her improve her vocabulary, and teach her the difference between parsing words and twisting words.

To give her credit, her writing style is so simplistic that anyone with a base ability to read can get through this book. This book uses first-grade vocabulary. The grammar isn't much more complex.

Perhaps due to this simplicity, her action sequences are fairly clear and concise, although many of her turns of phrase really make no sense at all.

If you're someone who can't stand grammar errors and words being used in the wrong way, look away now. This book is a graveyard of abused words, and they're freshly risen from the dead. This is harsh, and I understand that, but sometimes books just need rewritten and edited before being sold.

This is one of those books.

The Plot

There comes a time where a writer will use a cliche. Some cliches are cleverly used. Some are not. This book is full of them, and each one is more dangerous than the one before it. Before I knew it, my head was swimming in a sea of cliches. Not only are there cliches, the book starts off using a deus ex machina mechanic. For those who aren't aware of this, a deus ex machina is a reference to ‘the god of the machine'. It is a tactic used when a writer gets stuck in a corner and must use some vast power to get a character out of trouble. This tactic is used in the first chapter.

I should have known what was in store for me at this point. I really should have.

It got worse from there.

The plot of this book wasn't exactly predictable. Why not? Simple. The book isn't predictable because the twists and turns are so absurd that it's impossible to use logic to determine where the story might go. The events aren't truly driven by the characters. They're so far out there that I'm not really sure how things progressed in the way that they did.

I can't go away from a book without saying something nice about it: The story had a whirlwind pace — I think the super fast sequence of events was the only reason I made it through this book without throwing my kindle. It took me a little under an hour to read it. It's short.

I won't say much about the ending. Disappointing doesn't even begin to cover it. If you're looking for closure, don't look for it in this book.

The Setting

The first chunk of the story takes place in the New York public school system and in NYC. I've been to NYC on multiple occasions. I've even been to the neighborhood the book was written in. Morgan Rice didn't just get it wrong — she got it so wrong that I'm staring, from the absurdity of it all, that she didn't do basic research on the location. That she didn't think about the location and the people who live there.

If you read this book, please don't judge New York City by what she's brought to the table. This isn't New York.

This isn't Queens. Sure, Queens has rough spots here and there, but the way New York is painted is so inaccurate that I got mad for the sake of those who have been painted in such a dark and menacing tone. Morgan Rice's depiction of this diverse city isn't just bad — it fringes on abhorrence.

Please don't judge NYC by what this author has done to this city. It just isn't the true NYC. It's the NYC of someone who wants to make a bad main character look a little better, to be sympathetic, due to the ‘horrible place' she is forced to live.

General Thoughts

If you're going to read this book, don't go at it alone. Read it with a friend. Share the terror. My reading partner for this one was Heather Dudley. I read the description of the book and started to worry. I confessed to Heather my fears of this book. Since it was free, she downloaded it and read it with me.

We chatted online about it, got drinks, and braced ourselves for reading this book. We met back on instant messenger after finishing chapter one.

We were both stunned. Horrified. Wondering why we were doing this to ourselves, and to each other. We continued to read. Talked again near the halfway point. At that point, we agreed to race to the finish line.

Reading together got us through this book. At least, it got me through this book. It let me blow steam about the things happening in this book.

Who would I recommend this book to?

Honestly, I don't think I'd recommend this book to anyone. This book would need rewritten from the ground up, and the writer would need to invest a great deal of time and effort to make this story worth even $0.99 to me.

This is easily the worst published book I've ever read, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. It's a strong competitor for the worst book I've ever read. That's harsh, and I know it is, but this book needs a lot work before I would count it as enjoyable. I'd rather have a book full of basic spelling errors and an intriguing character — a character I can get behind and root for — than this.

My recommendation?

Stay away from this book. Don't walk away. Run, while you still can.

Leave a Comment:

13 comments
mad says October 7, 2013

The author is simply capitalizing on the name “Rice” being associated with well written novels. From the ones i have read so far the author appears to be a middle aged man who read a lot of “harly” romances back in the 80’s and is re-marketing hashed up story-lines with supernatural mixed in. After reading through one book and attempting a couple others (thank God for free chapters) the main character looks like a male point of view of the below average intelligence, teenage girl you see sneaking into clubs with fake ID.
The main characters actually all seem to be an opinion rather then an actual person. As if they took the shallowest appearing person they have ever met (apparently some girl from their past) and built multiple characters out of what little they see.

Mad

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PB says December 28, 2013

I’ve only read one book by Morgan Rice – the first of her Sorceror’s Ring series. I picked it up for free and as it was an author I hadn’t read, I gave it a bash.

I honestly thought it was an a software experiment, someone had created a program to write a book, using some clichéd concepts and characterisations. This was reinforced by a net trawl which revealed precious little on MR apart from some suspicious reviews and a somewhat lacklustre blog. I’m still not convinced that MR isn’t churning out this two dimensional drivel, courtesy of software.

It appears that my judgement hasn’t totally deserted me!

Relieved,

PB

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    Saph says February 27, 2016

    I thought the exact same thing! The writing felt “AI”
    That would explain how so many books get released so fast.

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vampjunkie says January 20, 2014

I read up to the sixth novel (and I use the term very loosely). Much to my chagrin, I hung there hoping they would develop into something. I have honestly never been so disappointed with a book than with these ones. The characters are blithering idiots who make the same errors in judgment from novel to novel and even chapter to chapter despite “having learned their lesson.” I cannot help but wonder if the real reason these books were published without an editor was because no editor worth their salt would allow such rubbish to published under their name. During the whole time I was reading, I was wondering if the author is a teenager with absolutely no life experience. I cannot fathom any other explanation for how the characters in these books are so shallow, inconsistent, callous, disloyal, and completely unlikeable. It is the first time that I have read a book and actually abhorred the main character. There should be a support group for readers of this series… it is that bad.

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    RJBlain says January 20, 2014

    I have definitely done the same with series — investing more and more into something I hoped would turn out better.

    Thanks so much for pitching in with your thoughts — I’m glad you commented, as I was wondering if it got any better. IT makes me relieved, at the same time, I didn’t waste my time trying the other novels in the hope something would change.

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Aniah says July 24, 2014

I read the first chapter of Turned and I couldn’t finish it. I just couldn’t connect with the character. She lacks emotion. I was hopeful it wouldn’t be that bad, but you said it was so terrible that I had to see it for myself. I should have taken your word for it.

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    RJBlain says July 29, 2014

    It’s… an experience, isn’t Aniah?!

    If you want a book that may make up for Turned, I want to recommend a book I’m currently reading: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel; it’s not vampires, but it’s a pretty good read. (I’ll be reviewing it soon!)

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Paul says April 19, 2015

“If you’re someone who can’t stand grammar errors and words being used in the wrong way, look away now. This book is a graveyard of abused words, and they’re freshly risen from the dead. This is harsh, and I understand that, but sometimes books just need rewritten and edited before being sold.”

You must be kicking yourself for that one.

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    RJBlain says April 19, 2015

    I only kick myself when I find the errors in my novels–and after I’m done kicking myself, I hunt them down and fix them.

    If you question the quality of the book, go read it. I can probably find you a bucket of bleach; once you’re done rinsing your eyes out with it, you can use it to hold your tears.

    Blog posts? I’ll get around adding the to be and removing the s one of these days. Today? Probably not that day.

    If you think my blog is bad… go try the book.

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Ricky K. says May 22, 2015

Well…i dont think the book is that bad. I’m okay with grammar errors as long as I understand what the writer is saying. I actually do kind of like the book because its nit too long. Yah you may think Caitlin is shallow but I don’t think so. I like Turned its very simplistic and not complicated. And give it a break in the New York thing. Take into consideration that the book is fictional and its not all that cliché.

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    RJBlain says May 22, 2015

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, I’m afraid! Compared to other books in genre I’ve read, it’s *very* cliche, Caitlin is extremely shallow, and the ill-treatment of New York hangs it really low on the totem pole for me. There are many, many better books out there, books that respect the urban cityscape they take place in, while including dynamic characters.

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ADD says November 27, 2015

Wow. I thought it was just me. Then I discussed this author (different series) with a friend, who also found the same plot holes, frustrating grammar/word abuse,and character weaknesses. She found this book (‘Taken’?) at the laundromat and gave it to her sister, who loves vampire novels, then bought her the rest of the series for Christmas. She has since apologized after reading some of Morgan’s (I will NOT call her Rice)other books. Thanks for the moral support…almost felt guilty disliking the books and characters SO much!

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Scytale says December 25, 2015

Came across a Morgan Rice book on googleplay and thought “a heroic fantasy novel with a very very clichéed title… I have a bad feeling about this…”. I felt I was being unfair, judgemental, snobish,… you name it.
So in order to redeem myself and make amends for my knowitall attitude, I read the free preview.
Ouch. It wasn’t bad. The word bad doesn’t even begin to express how it felt reading… that. Ghastly, horrible,… those are more acurate, but still not enough yet. I’m still feeling outraged from what I’ve read.
The first few lines of that “piece of crap”, for I can’t call THAT a book, displayed every single flaw you cited in your review. And it wasn’t even the same book! And I just read one page!

I have read fanfiction written with more talent and effort than… that.
The only thing good it did for me was giving me hope in being one day published if THAT can be. I’ve had bowel movements that were more inspired.

I felt so amazed at what felt like a joke gone wrong that I had to google the crap wizard who came up with… that. That’s how I came across your review of Turned. And let me just say thank you for the reassuring feeling I wasn’t loosing my mind and for the good laugh your humourous tone gave me. After just a glimpse of Morgan Rice “work” I feel for you who had to read a whole book by said “author”. I bow to your borderline masochist dedication, I wouldn’t have had the courage. I’d rather have hunted down Rice and demended retribution. Kudos!

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