Reviews: Aeon Legion Labyrinth

A Victim of the Perils of Self-Publishing

I picked up Aeon Legion: Labyrinth on Amazon after watching the author's YouTube series, Terrible Writing Advice. His videos were funny, and he demonstrated a good knowledge of tropes and why certain ones either tend to work or have become cliches, so I assumed that his writing would probably be pretty good. Unfortunately, despite the author's vast knowledge of storytelling conventions, the writing itself is rather lackluster.

Beaubien puts a great deal of effort into making a detailed setting and fleshed-out plot, complete with themes and symbolism, and in that effort he does pretty well. His world is fun to read about, and I genuinely like a lot of the ideas he went with for the story. The Aeon Legion's over-reliance on Chosen Ones in particular was interesting, and as a student of the Classics, I enjoyed the many Classical references. This was also the rare book where a male writer handles female characters well; there is no gratuitous romance, and the book passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors. I only wish that I had seen all of this expressed with technical skill.

The biggest problem, I think, is that this book had no editor. The inside cover lists the publisher as "Steel Hoplite Publications," but a quick Google search reveals that there is no such company: this is a self-published work. The problem with self-publishing is that it puts things out into the world without a proper vetting process, and the overall work tends to suffer for it. In this case, self-publishing means that Beaubien's grammatical issues and Anvilicious naming conventions ("Terra Mason?" Really?) did not get the benefit of a professional editor's touch. The results are less than pleasant. The text is rife with basic grammatical and writing errors, including sentence fragments, badly misplaced commas, lack of spaces after periods, bifurcation of compound words (e.g. "flame thrower" instead of "flamethrower"), and a stubborn refusal to hyphenate compound modifiers. He even messes up the order of adjectives on occasion.

I really want to like this book. The story is fun, the messages are good, and the themes and characters are miles better than the majority of young adult fiction. But in its current form, it is practically unreadable. Aeon Legion: Labyrinth is a perfect illustration of why traditional publishing has its merits, and why self-publishing has the unsavory reputation that it does.
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