Author Jonathan M. Lee
Thank you so much to Hideaway Fall Publishing for providing me with a copy of 337 in exchange for this honest review.
When I was contacted about the novel 337 I was told that it would be a unique reading experience. Here is a book that you can supposedly read both forward and backward! I was quite intrigued. Before even receiving the book I had already decided to read it backward. I mean, when do you ever get to do that?!
So you can imagine my disappointment when I picked up the book, started at the last chapter, and 16 pages in was told to flip the book and start at the real beginning. 16 pages hardly qualifies for reading a book backward. And of course I skimmed the first 16 pages that start the “beginning” of the book. The same as the ones I just read! I call shenanigans!
I’m honestly not sure if I would have agreed to read 337 without the promise of the backwards gimmick. I do know though that I significantly lowered its rating due to the disappointment of reading a fairly uneventful mystery without any rule breaking formatting.
I believe the title 337 comes less from any point in the plot and more from a play on the author’s name. Since you are supposed to flip the book upside down at some point you’ll see that 337 becomes the name LEE.
Additionally, the two covers for the book are blue and yellow. There are several instances in the book that allude to these colors containing some sort of symbolic meaning. However, it wasn’t clear enough or I didn’t care enough to be abe to tell you know what it means.
The basic premise of the story is that Sam’s mom went missing one day 19 years ago. She left behind a note and her wedding ring and her family never saw her again. Sam is determined to figure out what happened to her and why she would have abandoned him.
Sam spends time asking questions of his dying Gramma in order to finally get to the bottom of this. I cared more about Sam building his relations with his existing family than I did about him solving the mystery.
I wish 337 had put more thought into substance over style. The actual plot and character development in the book is a little flat and the progression of the story is somewhat dull. There are several plot points that basically get abandoned or have little payoff for the reader.
Additionally, 337 sets itself up at the end for a sequel. And I’m over it. If you’ve been following my reviews for a while you know how desperate I am for endings. Stories cry out for conclusions! This one needed a conclusion, I can’t imagine it has enough material for another 337 pages, just give me the ending now!
But capitalism has deemed the sequel mandatory anymore, and we’re all worse off for it. One of the best parts of a mystery is that it gets solved, that’s as clear as any ending should be! But this mystery does not get solved, spoiler I guess.
337 is overall an okay book. It’s readable and entertaining enough for the most part but definitely has a few flaws. It’s not offensive or littered with typos but it also can’t be read backwards like I was promised.
If you like your mysteries more subdued then you could try to check this one out.
2/5 doors 🚪🚪
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Buy it here: 337