From Page 99 Test to Novel Review


“Open the book to page 99 and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”

Ford Madox Ford

As I market my books I seek feedback and reviews. I start with the Page 99 test.  Here are some of the comments I’ve received.


I would read the manuscript. I think it’s snappy and quickly paced.

The writing is immature. 

It’s a short page, but written well.

Interesting, but the dialogue is awkwardly phrased.

Great use of language to evoke emotion.

Nothing much happens, but I would like to keep reading until something does. I like the style.


You can get a feel of the characters right away. Their interactions with each other feel genuine.

Confusing voice. Not sure how many people are interacting in the scene.

Would I read it?

The excerpt is too short! Yes, I’m whining because I actually thought that was an interesting read.

Yes, because it is exciting and you set it up so I want to know more about Mentor.

No, it’s a bit of a dull extract, and the sentences are rather short and choppy.

No, the story didn’t engage my interests.

Yes, I’m interested at the mention of symbols and messages.

I need to know what is going on. I definitely would buy the book to read it. I have been caught in its web!

Well, I’ve obviously done some things right and others not so much. Perhaps I can glean more from the lengthier reviews readers post on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc. Alas, in the reviews I find more of the same.

I started and finished Embattled in a day. The book is a page-turner, full of passion. There’s never any doubt about the will of the book to carry you on.

High entertainment value yet provocative, original, and straight from Mencius’ ‘unbearing mind.’

I think the pacing could have been improved. Some sections were smooth and others dragged a little too much.

What I did find fascinating were the twists and turns. A teeny bit similar to that of Agatha Christie’s multiple twists that explode in a conclusion that will make you flip through at least parts of the story if not the full book. 

There is a lot going on in this story, and I admit to being a bit confused in the early chapters because of the shifts in view-point and rapid changes of scene

Darlene Jones also has a good ear for dialogue and writes convincing sex scenes (no easy feat). I’d also like to offer special props to author Darlene Jones who writes fantastic fight scenes. They were realistic, engaging and entrancing!

I found issue with the dual narration. Part of the story is told in the first person from the point of view of Yves and part is told in third person from the perspective of Em, either as her normal self or as Miracle Madam. While this would normally be fine, and the execution of both is fantastic, there is no transition between the two and the two sides are by no means equally represented, making the story very disjointed.

My mother used to say, “You can please half of the people half of the time.” Now that I’m an author with three books published, I understand more than ever what she meant. Reading tastes are so varied and so personal.

So, what’s an author to do? Writing, for me, is an art form that allows expression of my interests and passions. I’m always striving to improve, therefore I take note of the critiques offering suggestions for improvement and try to implement them in new work. Then I continue to write the stories that please me, confident that I will find readers who love my characters and plot lines as much as I do.




6 comments on “From Page 99 Test to Novel Review

  1. This makes me a bit nervous–knowing that someday someone or group of people will, for one reason or the other, review my finished work . I wholeheartedly agree with your mom: everyone cannot be pleased at a given time; then you: writing, like an other art form, bears the signature of its owner. We’re different even when it comes to what we read. For instance, I’m a big fan of Jonathan Kellermann who I believe handles the first and third person pov so well in his psychological thriller.

    I’ll always remember this:

    “I take note of the critiques offering suggestions for improvement and try to implement them in new work. Then I continue to write the stories that please me, confident that I will find readers who love my characters and plot lines as much as I do.”

    It’s a wonderful piece of advice for someone like me.

  2. Thank you. I appreciate your interest in my work. My first book is written in both first and third person. Some readers really like that. Others don’t like it at all, but I think it worked for that story.

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