“Coldwater” by Samuel Parker

Cover of titular book, featuring a black-and-white photo of a man running in woods comprised of leafless trees; in red capitalized (possibly Arial Black) letters reads the titleBook: “Coldwater” by Samuel Parker
Published by Fleming H. Revell Company on 2nd January, 2018
Genres: Crime fiction, Thriller
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Rating: 3/5⭐
Source: Revell Reads (received for free in exchange for an honest review)
Goodreads

Having forfeited his youth to the state prison system, Michael moved back to the only home he’d ever known. An empty shell of a man who now lived—if it could be called living—in the still vacant house of his parents in a town with one stoplight. A town that hated him. Had always hated him. And was ready to pick up where the prison system had let off.

Now he’s on the run from men who’ve tried to kill him once; but Michael is more than an ex-con. A powerful, sinister force creeps inside him, threatening and destructive. Who—and what—it will destroy next is the only real question.

It’s hard not to take my feelings into account when reviewing Coldwater, but I don’t review based on feelings, so I can’t start with this one. Just because a book makes me feel a certain way doesn’t mean it’s worth all or none of the stars.

Two things I most disliked

Grammar

In ninth grade, I took AP English. One my teacher learned my class, her one and only AP English class, did not know how to diagram sentences, she decided we’d spend the next six weeks including it in every single lesson to shove it down our throats, then put it in every test afterward. “You’re going to learn how to write a proper sentence,” she said. THIS IS WHY I LIKE PROPER SENTENCES in books, at least. So diagramming sentences is, like, second nature to me. I automatically think about it when reading books, because most of our examples came from sentences in books.

-ing words as past-tense verbs and gerunds as sentences

I am lenient when perspectives in novels are first person, but still…gerunds as sentences are my own pet peeves, as with -ing words instead of past-tense verbs (or, hey, even including them in the preceding sentences where applicable). I’m talking about this:

  • His eyes darting from tree to tree on the embankment below. (pg. 59-60)
  • The throbbing in his head diminishing with each passing moment down the road. (pg. 201)
  • The wound in his leg reopening with each step. (pg. 266)
  • I didn’t keep track of the gerunds as sentences because I remembered late and thought I already had one each time, but it goes something like this: “Writing a blog post for the review of a book, trying to finish it so she could finally be done.”

Such an issue is probably so minuscule to someone else, but

  1. I had to diagram sentences until I learned to do it right, and then some; and
  2. many friends and some family members are teachers, and most agree with me when I say I feel like the world is becoming less literate.

So it bugs me—mostly because of #1, but further due to #2.

Too many perspectives for the story to stay interested

If there is action, then I want to read about it. The different perspectives felt a lot like Vantage Point, but if it only contained men making bad decisions. A couple times, third person POV changes to “we” for a for split-second; though one of the times this happened made for a great quote, it brought me out of the story and was difficult to get back in.

I think I wouldn’t have had such a difficult time with the perspectives if it didn’t feel so A/B/C/etc., like a TV show skipping to different perspectives—only they don’t do this anymore, because devoting one episode to one perspective in such a manner is trendier because it allows more development and focus and understanding.

What I liked

I enjoyed the development of the characters and found parallels to reality from the story. I believe in forgiveness absolving someone from their crimes, but I also understand the difficulty of believing whether someone has really changed. It’s one thing if they expect forgiveness when they keep committing the crime, but it’s another altogether if they ask for forgiveness and work hard to change. There is also the matter of how society sees convicts, in that it terms them into monstrous beings of the same flavor.

Some years ago, the news discussed the death penalty, and the opposing side said the statistic regarding wrongly convicted inmates on death row is 1 in 25. I said, “My old best friend’s brother was convicted of killing someone in a drunk accident, and he killed himself in prison because he felt like he had nothing to live for.” Before I could explain that he’d been innocent, the person replied, “Well, he got what he deserved, then. He shouldn’t have done that.” I didn’t say anything else, because I was shocked—he got what he deserved?

Coldwater feels a bit personal to me. Michael committed a crime so young he didn’t comprehend death, and yet he was expected to spend all his days atoning for his sins while bearing a darkness he didn’t understand. The underlining story in this case was brilliantly made.

Overall

‘Tis hard to review this book without spoilers, so I hope I brought it justice. I rated Coldwater 3/5 stars, because such my initial rating despite wanting it to be 4/5 stars.

My first issue is typically a deal breaker for me. I still have nightmares diagramming sentences, and I can’t help favoring literacy over writing meant to encourage the reader to keep going. I can’t condone this new trend of “Write short sentences. So readers will not feel like you are making it hard for them to read. Instead of using semicolons, use periods. Other punctuation is scary”. (A woman older than myself said this.) 🤦

Thus, if you dislike such sentences, then you probably won’t enjoy reading the book. For me, I loved the story, but I disliked the writing. Lisa Cron said the story is more important than the writing, but no.

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Comments on this post

Kassy’s gravatar

That would have been difficult to read when there were so many grammatical errors. It’s a bonus that the story was good, just a shame that it could have been written in a much better way. Maybe the next novel the author writes will be better. 🙂

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Jane’s gravatar

I don’t know. It wasn’t his first one, so it could just be the way he writes. These days, I read less and less books by male authors—I only select the book(s) if I think I might really like them—so chances of me reading another book by Samuel Parker are slim. I’m a big picky. 😅

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Jamie’s gravatar

I absolutely agree that the world is somehow becoming less literate. Sure more people can read and write on a basic level, but can they do it well? I’m not so sure. What I do know is that if I were to ever write a book I’d hire you as my editor (heh). While I feel some writing can be overlooked if the story is good, I find writing to be just as important because poor writing can reaaaally be distracting and make it unnecessarily difficult to read a book.

As for the book itself, you bring up some interesting points about crime and punishment, and it piques my interest in the book. A shame that the writing really detracted from what sounds like an interesting book. I might still pick this one up and check it out, if I can ever get through my never ending TBR pile.

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Jane’s gravatar

Teachers I’ve spoken to have shared their same concerns. The curriculum they’re given excludes various content they had to learn in school, from history to maths, and there are some topics they’re not allowed to discuss regardless of harm—not because of religious reasons, but because the education system has been altered to set students up to fail. There is no longer the same one-on-one training from teachers a tutor could give, because it’s less about understanding things properly and more about passing just enough. They can’t mark too many wrong answers or else the kids will lose hope and/or feel embarrassed or offended.

I know it’s considered a conspiracy theory, but I was a frustrated kid in school who felt like the work I was given was too easy sometimes. I wanted more of a challenge in various subjects, but was simply told that that was how it was and they couldn’t do anything about it. But it makes a lot of sense after considering the patterns, and the 45th president and his desire to take power away from the government to give to businesses. It’s a hard thing to do when people are too intelligent/analytical to allow it to happen without a fight.

It’s the reason why, should I become responsible for children as a parent, I’m so against public schooling.

Though it’s quite biased against Obama in outdated ways that hardly make sense, Centre for Research on Globalization’s article is adequate in explaining the details. Net Neutrality was such a big concern for me, because Obama’s Net Neutrality ruling leveled the playing field internet service providers (ISPs) had so desperately been refusing. Now, information is fair game. It’s all a huge mindfuck, and the people who don’t understand why and refuse to consider otherwise are probz gonna kill us all. 🤦

Coldwater was a good book in this…aspect? view? I don’t know. It makes a great argument for good vs bad. I enjoy when things do that. Netflix’s new series, Altered Carbon, also does this (and it’s based on a book series, which I feel like I want to read…).

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Georgie’s gravatar

I learned something! I didn’t know those examples were called gerunds. I think that excessively, they might bother me, but if a book uses them every now and then, it might be OK. But that of course raises questions of consistency I suppose? Although I don’t think I would like this book I thought your particular note about the grammar there was really interesting 🙂

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