River Rising by John A. Heldt: Book Review


The story and concept behind River Rising was interesting and intriguing enough to keep me reading, and the book left on something of a cliffhanger – so I am curious to know what’s coming next!

However, I did find it very difficult to really connect with the characters in this book and really care about them. It didn’t feel like we ever got a full, three-dimensional look at who each of the Carsons were as people, what really made them tick, etcetera. It would have been nice to see more of their inner worlds; perhaps more emotional language, or even visceral physical descriptions (such as body language) could have aided with this.

I felt that though the author was generally going for a third-person limited perspective in each chapter, there were moments where the perspective unexpectedly and jarringly changes without warning, which threw me off and out of the story. In addition, the author has a tendency to frequently come up with creative (and often very cheesy) descriptions for the characters – ie the Rattlesnake Romeo and his Johnstown Juliet; Natalie Carson, keeper of memories; etc. I’m not sure if this was meant to be humorous or what it was going for, but it felt a bit like children’s book writing to me and didn’t work well (in my opinion).

Some things are over-explained and repeated to death (the readers really only need to be told once or maybe twice what the characters are/do for a living; instead, we are reminded over and over that Natalie is a reporter, Adam is a civil engineer, etc). In other situations, I found myself utterly confused (for example, when the author references a ten-year-old trapped in a forty-year-old woman’s body; but he is really talking about just a forty-year-old woman, and it probably would have been better to simply call her by her name so we know right off the bat who you’re talking about and what is going on).

As far as critiques go, my last one would be that much of the dialogue feels stilted, unnatural, and at times very repetitive (the narrative can also get a bit repetitive at times). The characters, young adults from the year 2018, often don’t use contractions – which I found odd. There are also many instances of repeating things, such as: ‘Let’s go. Let’s go find Mom and Dad. Let’s go right now’, which feels awkward and clunky. Most people don’t really talk like that.

I felt the story was good. The author takes his time with allowing relationships to develop and building suspense. He sets up the stakes well in the beginning, and puts many obstacles in the characters’ paths to getting what they want most (reuniting their family), which made for an interesting read. – Anne ⭐️⭐️⭐️


I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading River Rising. The concept of time travel has always interested me and I enjoyed where the story went with it.

I did feel that many of the characters were fairly flat and (especially the women) even portrayed some stereotypes that were unpleasant at times.

The repetition, especially in dialogue, really got to me. I found it distracting and it pulled me out of the story. I noticed that frequently when one character would ask a question, the responding character would echo words in their answer. This happened much too often to feel natural and it was not even a quirk of one particular character – most of them spoke like this!

I did enjoy the how the some of the relationships grew in this book. There were also many amazing points of historical interest which were very intriguing to learn about! The action near the end of the book is pretty intense and well done. – Jake ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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