Rated Reads

Out of the Black

by Lee Doty

Rated: Moderate

This is the first e-book I have ever read, and although I really like the concept (and the price), reading a book on my iPhone was not the most enjoyable thing I have ever done. I am now saving for an iPad.

First-time novelist Lee Doty has selected the future Chicago as the arena for the beginning of the end of the world. Two primary plot lines surround Ping, an Irish-Asian detective, and Anne, a struggling phlebotomist at a major hospital. Both individuals are learning about the Underworld, where Savants and Replicants access power that seems like magic to the rest of us. And yet, neither is learning in the same fashion. Ping receives his education as part of an ongoing investigation, while Anne gets hers from a man dying in the street.

Overall, the story is engaging and unpredictable, and the characters are well developed with solid backgrounds and individual behavior patterns. The book really bogs down in the overly detailed descriptions of physical conflicts and the sheer number of same. At first, it was gripping to follow very well done narration of what I term “slow motion fighting.” The author truly has a talent for writing the kind of action you see in movies when they intentionally slow it down to show detail. Unfortunately, it is his strongest ability, so he uses it a LOT, which becomes tedious.

The technological side is also very well done; nothing is described from the point of view of a 2011 reader. Rather, the author has his characters using equipment that is everyday for the period and in such a way that is fun for the reader to slowly figure out what this or that marvelous toy truly is. Even though I have never seen “Blade Runner” (a major reference point throughout the story), I was able to keep up just fine.

My primary hope is that the author generates enough income from this work to feel comfortable hiring an editor for his next book. Spelling and grammar errors are not rife, but they are glaring. The constant conflicts take away more than they add to the story, and he needs some serious help in bringing separate plot lines together. Fortunately, it only cost $3, which is just about right.

Rated: Moderate: The language is clean, but the body count and fight descriptions are pretty intense.

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

2 Responses to Out of the Black

  1. Lee Doty says:

    Hey, this popped up in a google alert today, and I thought I’d just drop a quick line to tell you that I enjoyed the review.

    Which version of the book did you read? Did you get it through the kindle app on your iPhone or through iBooks or the nook or kobo apps?

    Here’s why I ask…

    Since publication, I’ve probably versioned the kindle book about 15 times from customer feedback, and my own repeated reads/listens. The most recent update was maybe 6 months ago. If you’re still finding errors in the kindle edition after that, I would be in your debt if you could pass on anything you remember. If you give me anything that leads to an edit, your name goes into the acknowledgments section at the end. (if that’s what you want, that is)

    Unfortunately, I don’t sell many books through smashwords, which feeds everywhere but kindle (tens vs thousands) and their ebook upload process is very restrictive/difficult, so I’ve not updated that one nearly as much.

    I’ll make sure to upload a corrected manuscript to smashwords soon.

    BTW: I’m surprised that on a content rating site, my subtexts against profanity and illicit sex weren’t mentioned. However, I wanted that stuff to be in the background and largely just slip into the subconscious unnoticed, so maybe that’s a “mission accomplished”


    Thanks again for the fair review!

  2. Craig Smith says:

    Mr. Doty:

    I purchased the ebook through iBooks (on my iPhone) the same day I received the BYU alumnus magazine that mentioned your publication. It is a Smashwords edition, but I do not recall exactly when I downloaded it, but you probably do, now that you know how I heard of it.

    I did not keep any notes on the mistakes I found; my statement was meant more as a general overview of the writing style. I guess I’m not going to be in your debt, after all, nor am I going to get my name in the acknowledgments section. Rats.

    And yes, your mission was definitely accomplished. I probably should have mentioned your subtexting style, which I honestly did notice (and appreciated) while I read. It is refreshing to know that there are still some writers that are willing to take the more difficult road of keeping profanity in the background, instead of just tossing it out there.

  • Out of the Black
  • by Lee Doty
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: