What is destiny? Do we have the power to change the course of our lives, or are we forever bound by fates formulated by the algorithm of being?
And coincidences – are they merely fluke occurrences or are they the results of a planned chain reaction?
That is the story of a man who has run away from his past, and another who is running from himself. Pursued by their own demons, the unlikely pair collide fiercely with judgements and misunderstandings. From enemies to lovers, the pair journey on a path to discover truths that they have been denied. But are they ready to face them?
Who is the hero and who is the villain in their story?
And what is their destiny…?
‘There’s ugliness in beauty, but there’s also beauty in ugliness’
‘We may be monsters, but we are each other’s monsters’
The blurb for His WildFlower is pleasantly vague. I was interested in a story that explored destiny and free will through the lens of enemies to lovers. The idea of skewed perception where good versus evil is concerned also caught my attention. As I started reading, less and less of my focus was on these promises and more and more on simply trying to understand what the author was trying to communicate.
From the very first page, the lack of structure in the physical presentation of the text was a stumbling block. It starts like an attention-grabbing preface to set the scene, opening with talk about a messiah of mythical proportions poised to overthrow the world order. There’s a disposed “Crown” and a “General,” along with something called the “Symmetry” that appears to be a collaboration between the first two named characters in the book. I thought I was reading a kind of blurb, but after the first couple paragraphs about myths and saviors, the text turns into a huge info dump of facts. The generic-to-the-point-of-being-placeholder names did not help me assign values to any of these groups or individuals. What is The Crown? Why were they taken down? Who is the General? Is any of this contemporary to the coming story, or just backstory? What is the Symmetry and what roles do Elder Hua and Lord Eldridge have to play?
Things did not improve as I read. The first thing that jumped out at me was the author’s tendency to misuse words, like describing the ruling class as “power yielders” instead of “power wielders” or a drunk “propelling his guts” instead of “expelling” and a driver who “cruised the brothers back to an ultra-modern mansion” instead of “drove.” The meaning is clear, but this is a work of prose not poetry. Of course, there’s also the incredible amount of purple prose to contend with. Here, for example, is how the character Marcus is first described (emphasis mine):
Above his sharp jawline, he wore dark choppy hair with a fringe hovering over his haunting long-tailed phoenix eyes which swept towards his temples. A visible slash scar cut over his left brow down to his cheek. Attached to the cold but pleasing face was a pair of broad shoulders draped with muscle. Chest embossed under a fitted t-shirt; he was sleeved in golden-toned skin.
There are a slew of other linguistic “quirks” that just feel out of place and draw undue attention to the words, rather than what they are trying to accomplish. Here is a brief sampling of examples:
- A whiff of rage swooned past Marcus’s nose.
- His intensity pollinated an uncomfortable aroma towards the nose of the man sitting across from him.
- …his nervousness exuded a scent that crippled his opponent.
- Finally, an empty apartment to reflect.
All of these were huge nonstarters for me, but one of my biggest pet peeves was the way some elements of Asian cultures were used. There was absolutely no reason for the author to throw in the Japanese title sensei (teacher) or the concept of hafu (biracial) and gaijin (foreigner). Sensei was doubly awful because it was used as a prefix to a surname when such terms are used as suffixes in Japanese. Plus, it was added to a surname I believe is Chinese. The word for “teacher” in Chinese (Mandarin) is not sensei but laoshi. I could not fathom why any of the hafu/gaijin stuff even made it into the story. Why bother using these terms when the concepts they describe are so particular and when these concepts are not in any way relevant to the story/characters (well, except for the love interest of a supporting character). Oh, and the repeated use of a racist word to refer to Asian people was just fucking horrible.
I only made it through 40% of this book and I think I hated every moment of it. Nothing made sense. The author completely failed to communicate their vision of this post-dystopian (?) world. Their characters were as immature as they were mercurial; the quick scene changes didn’t help me understand their personalities or motivations very well, either. The pacing felt disjointed, jumping from scene to scene with no visual or textual markers to help parse the passing of time or changing locations. We literally have a main character crash his car then escape on his favorite horse (?!). Maybe other readers will find some enjoyment in the convoluted world and bad writing, but I did not.