Thursday, July 16, 2015

Kirkus Review is in! (part 2)

Alright... As promised, here is the entire Kirkus review copied directly from the pdf they sent me. It's also available at the Kirkus website. Please stick with me till the end... it was a long process. LOL

First... let me say that I'm not upset about the actual review itself. It's an opinion. I don't agree with all of it, but it's not a bad review. I'm slightly annoyed about one comparison, but I can live with that. The errors and treatment by Kirkus, however... That's the issue.

Entire Review

Payton Chronicles Book 1
Snizek, Ann
$15.99 paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4823-5141-5; March 15, 2013

In Snizek’s (Secret of the Shielded, 2014, etc.) latest YA fantasy, a 16-year-old looking for ways to reinvent herself finds out that she’s a genetic hybrid.

Eris Payton is an ordinary teenage girl…almost. Her whole life, she’s felt awkward and friendless, as she and her mother are constantly moving from place to place. Her misery is compounded by the fact that her dad left the family when she was little and her mom is an abusive drinker and drug abuser. One day, Eris sees a mysterious boy in a convenience store—a boy that no one else can see. At first she thinks he’s a ghost, but the truth turns out to be even stranger: he’s actually two beings combined. One of them is Matt, a human who disappeared a while ago; the other is Nelson, an electric being called a lucent, who’s able to join with humans in a kind of symbiosis. When Matt ran away from home and nearly died, the lucent joined with him to save his life, and now the two exist as one being. Nelson tells Eris that a virus has been killing lucents, but he was told that she could help—although he doesn’t know how. It all sounds crazy to Eris, but after a particularly bad night at home, she decides to go with Nelson to his underground community. It turns out that something in her blood might hold the cure to the lucent virus; she also aims to finally find out what happened to her dad, who genetically engineered her before her birth. Snizek creates an engaging world in her portrayal of the lucent community. The book is sometimes slow-paced, however, and there are occasional flashes of other popular YA novels: for example, lucents have skin that glows in the sunlight (à la Twilight), and they must undergo an aptitude test to learn to control their flow of electricity. However, the romance between Eris and Nelson is sweet and believable. Eris herself is a likable protagonist who always comes across as smart and capable, even when she doesn’t understand the new world she’s discovered.

An entertaining, if occasionally slow, read for fans of the paranormal and fantasy genres.


When I first read this, I had concerns.

  1. The Secret of the Shielded isn't even part of the same series. So, why is it referenced?
  2. 2014 isn't the year To Eris - Human was published OR the year The Secret of the Shielded was published. (see pics at the bottom)
  3. To Eris - Human is NOT a fantasy. It is a sci-fi/paranormal.
Now... These points have NOTHING to do with the actual review part. They are simply facts about the book that are wrong. This DOES however, cause me to think that perhaps the rest of the review may not be the honest and thorough review that I've always expected from Kirkus Reveiws. I've always dreamed of having my books reviewed by this company that has "The most authoritative book reviews, recommendations and author interviews in publishing." according to their advertising.

These errors have shaken my confidence, but I'm doing my best to accept the actual review part at face value.

So, what I did was email them. I thought perhaps it's an error as humans do (after all, look at the title of my book!)
Here is my email to them on July 8, 2015:

Dear Kirkus Reviews,

I have an issue with my review. It's not about whether the reviewer liked the book or not. But the reference within it. It shakes my confidence in the reviewer and causes me to question the thoroughness and attention to a review that was paid for. 

At the top of the review it shows the following:

Payton Chronicles Book 1 
Snizek, Ann 
$15.99 paperback 
ISBN: 978-1-4823-5141-5; March 15, 2013

In Snizek’s (Secret of the Shielded, 2014, etc.) latest YA fantasy... 


Secret of the Shielded is one of my books and is a YA fantasy. However, it's in a completely different series even. Also, while To Eris - Human does have paranormal elements, I list it as a sci-fi/paranormal, not a fantasy.

I do disagree with one part of the actual review, because it seems the reviewer didn't understand what was written. I realize that will not likely change the review and I'm fine with this, but I believe I need to call this to your attention. 

"there are occasional flashes of other popular YA novels: for example, lucents have skin that glows in the sunlight (à la Twilight)" - Kirkus Review

Now, I realize the Twilight series is very popular and I do not entirely mind being compared in a good sense. However, here is an excerpt of my story that this comment is referring to. One line mentions the protagonist thinking about "glittery vampires", but the skin glowing itself is described in a manner that is not like Twilight and I feel it's misleading. 

Excerpt from To Eris - Human:

Nelson began to talk about the music and other small talk and gradually I relaxed to the smooth sound of his voice. He told me things about the area, both outside and within the trees. Something about the way he spoke drew me in. His face almost glowed as he mentioned his favorite spot to sit in the forest. Then I realized he kind of was glowing with the sunshine falling on him. It reminded me of sticking a flashlight to my skin when the power went out, only not so red.
Thoughts of glowing angels, phantoms, and even glittery vampires from various books and movies went through my mind, and the bowl slid out of my hands onto the floor. Thankfully, it only dumped a few chips out. My jaw hung open and my eyes bulged as I stared at him. When he noticed, he stopped talking and looked at me in confusion.

I hope you will resolve the error in referencing the wrong book as I wish to publish and use the review I paid for. I'd appreciate any information about resolving any of these concerns. I hope this isn't a reflection of the standards that I am to expect in future reviews. I, like so many others, hold Kirkus Reviews to extremely high standards and my faith has been shaken by this.

Thank you for your time,

Ann Snizek


After sending this, I waited. With this tour quickly approaching and wanting to share my review I'd waited so long to get with the world, the wait was excruciating for me. Six days later, I still hadn't heard anything. So, I sent another email on July 14, 2015 at 8:16 am.

Dear Indie department of Kirkus Reviews, 

Is there any particular reason why mentioning a completely different book, different copyright year, and different genre than the book submitted for review would be considered professional?

I'm shocked at the lack of response as well as the unprofessional "review" I received. If this is what I can expect from Kirkus, I'm seriously reconsidering submitting any future works to you. Or is this simply the Indie section of Kirkus? Are there lower standards for reviews of Indie authors?

I'm very disappointed in Kirkus Reviews quality at this point. 

Ann Snizek

FINALLY... at 4:52 pm on July 14, 2015, I received a response from one of their interns. I've purposely left off the name of the intern.

Hi Ann, 

Thank you for your patience. I discovered your first message in my junk mail today and I apologize for this belated response. 

It is part of Kirkus’ established style to reference an author’s previous title in the review, regardless of whether or not we’ve reviewed other titles by the author. If you look at the other reviews published by Kirkus, you will see that this is standard for us. The intention is to give the reader some context and to highlight an author’s other work. We will not remove the parenthetical reference in the first line of your review. 

Let me know if I can clear anything else up for you. 

All the best,

My jaw just about hit the floor! They ignored most of my concerns. I do understand now why they referenced my other book. However, I looked up other reviews as suggested. Here are a few links to other books I found. These are random selections and I have not read any of the books.

Indie book reviews by Kirkus:

Heroes and Giants by Douglas B. Ashby (No mention of any other possible works or statement of it being a debut.)

Mind Over Bullies by D. K. Smith (It does have the same type of book reference, but it reads more clearly to me that it's not identifying the other book as the reviewed book)

GreyNet by DS Kane (The reference to other works here is very clearly referencing another work. There is no doubt that the book in parenthesis is NOT the book reviewed)

Traditionally published books reviewed by Kirkus:

Never Ending by Martyn Bedford (Starred review; published by Random; no mention as to whether this is a debut or not, but no reference to any other works)

The Golden Specific by S.E. Grove (Published by Viking; Grove's other work is mentioned, but not formatted in the same manner)

Playful Pigs from A to Z by Anita Lobel (Published by Knopf; No mention of other works or statement of it being a debut)


My point is that NOT all of them are listed the same way. Even if they were, the copyright year is still incorrect for either book. I publish my books through and ...

Both of my books referenced were published in 2013. In fact, of my 19 published works, I published all of them in 2013 with the exception of the first one (Tunuftol's Fortress of Light) which was published 12/12/12 on Smashwords then in January of 2013 through Createspace.

So.... While I did find a few comments in my review that I feel are "quotable" and I intend to use them so as not to feel the money spent was a COMPLETE waste, I seriously doubt that I will ever use Kirkus Reviews again. In fact, I will now look upon ALL of their reviews as questionable and possibly biased.

I definitely feel reviews of my books by individuals are far more valuable to me than the one I've paid for.

My experience is just that... my experience. I cannot speak for others who have or will receive reviews by Kirkus. In my opinion, they did not behave in a respectful, professional manner. This is what I have issues with.

NOTE: For those of you who have read (and especially those who have reviewed) To Eris - Human, you may find it interesting that you can comment on the Kirkus Review page.

Please check out today's other stop at: 
and see her review.

I hope you'll come back tomorrow and also continue following the tour. Tomorrow's stop also has a review. So, please stop by tomorrow to see what they have to say about...
To Eris - Human

Giveaway will have the current cover, not the old cover displayed on Goodreads. 
(current cover released June 2015)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

To Eris - Human by Ann Snizek

To Eris - Human

by Ann Snizek

Giveaway ends July 18, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

1 comment:

  1. This was quite a mess. Sorry, Ann. But you're making the most of the review, and that's good.