"THE PEN," by Herb Scribner, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 367 pages, $16.95 (f)
At the opening of "The Pen" by Herb Scribner, Jake Serent is a loser, at least in his mind. His cousin Kevin can befriend popular jocks and charm cute girls with ease, but Jake stammers in front of the school bully and fades into the social wallpaper.
After Kevin mysteriously disappears, an anonymous text message leads Jake to a magical pen from Discis, another world with two moons. Jake must go to Discis, find Kevin and lead an epic journey to defeat the evil that threatens both Discis and Earth. Along the way, Jake will learn true strength lies not in the pen or magic, but in courage and friendship.
"The Pen" is wildly imaginative, but too flawed to completely entertain the reader. The writing is verbose and convoluted, and grammatical errors and typos also detract from the reading experience. As a self-published novel, it could have benefited from more thorough editing.
While some of the book's characters are developed, many are flat and unlikable. Multiple storylines compete with rather than complement each other. One arc in particular involving a bus accident comprises a large portion of the book but adds nothing to the plot. The magical element is poorly handled, as well. One character suddenly gains magical powers (without comment from the other characters), and the author never explains the pen's function or existence.
Scribner is a journalist for the Deseret News and has previously written for the Boston Globe and USA Today. He has also worked in multimedia journalism and video production. Originally from South Hadley, Massachusetts, Scribner now lives in Salt Lake City.
This novel contains scattered mild profanities and detailed hand-to-hand combat and war violence. There are multiple instances of teen and adult sexual behavior, including passionate kissing, petting and implied sex scenes.
If you go
What: Local author showcase
When: Tuesday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East
Rachel Chipman has a bachelor's degree in family life and human development. Her current goals are to read more, write more and learn to type while holding her infant daughter. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.