OK, that was the least apt metaphor ever, because the reviews so far have been super nice. Let me try some other similes....
Reviews for This Side of Salvation are starting to rain down like:
- Volcanic ash at Pompeii (only a 0.1% improvement on demon locusts from hell)
- Strings of beads at a Mardi Gras parade (seasonally appropriate, but implies I did something indecent to receive them)
- Snowflakes from the sky (after the winter we've had, the eastern half of the US would probably prefer the locusts or lava)
Publishers Weekly had this to say about TSOS (review contains no spoilers):
(Italics added, for those with short attention spans like mine.)
Grief at the death of oldest son John Cooper drives a wedge between his remaining family members. His parents find solace in a fringe Christian movement, which 17-year old Mara rejects, while 16-year-old narrator David tries to bridge all fissures. On the night that cult leader Sophia declares the Rush (Rapture) will occur, David and Mara return from a forbidden after-prom party to find their parents gone; the clothes left on their bed give the appearance that they vanished. Chapters alternate between “Now,” the time after the parents’ disappearance, and preceding years, with David recounting events progressively closer to the present. Suspense builds in both time frames: the circumstances of John’s death remain ambiguous until the end, while the mystery involving the Cooper parents unfolds as David, Mara, and close friends unravel clues. A homeschooled, competitive baseball player, David wrestles with his parents’ rigid and bizarre biblical interpretations, which ironically prods his own spiritual journey in a different direction. Smith-Ready (the Shade trilogy) combines a thought-provoking exploration of faith with high-stakes family drama to create a page-turner with real heft. Ages 14–up.
By the way, if you're looking for romance, there is one in TSOS, though the review doesn't mention it. I do think, however, that the core relationship in the book is the one between the siblings (or maybe I should say among the siblings, to include the dead older brother). That was my intention from the start, and I'm glad it's being read that way.
This is my feeling toward reviews in general: I'm less concerned with their overall positivity/negativity than I am with whether the reviewer gets the book. I'm happy when they understand what I was trying to do, even if they think my attempt was unsuccessful. That's what tells me whether I did my job or not.
For instance, when PW gave Bad to the Bone a starred review, I was thrilled for the honor, but it was referred to as a "farce," which wasn't really what I was going for. Obviously I wanted there to be humor, but it made me wonder if I played some moments too hard for the laugh instead of going for the guts of emotion. (Then again, making people laugh is what makes me happier than anything; those who go through a box of tissues with each of my novels may be surprised to hear that. Also, I did the rewrite for that book during a very stressful and sleepless period, so I was probably finding lots of relief in humor.)
There's another major review I can't share until it's published next week. It's sitting in my inbox, gnawing at the bars of its cage like a--well, if you put a demon locust from hell in a cage...
*Book of Revelation reference, or the name of David's fictional band if he played guitar instead of baseball