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  • Good job

    Great read, left me wanting more. I loved how all the animals played their role

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  • A Great Start

    I rate this title 3-3.5 stars. Animal Instincts: The Urban Jungle is a collection of short fiction about a cast of animals living lives that mirror the rougher underbelly of human urban centers. Although each little story has an arc and does stand alone as short fiction, they also read and tie-in together like chapters in a larger piece. First of all, let me say I am thankful for the “prelude” (forward) from the author that tells us readers about the origins of this collection of stories, and how they’re based on creative writing projects from elementary school. Knowing that, I find the childlike tone and quality of the narratives charming, rather than unfinished. With that said, the author is no longer a fourth-grader and as such has had more time and experience in writing since then even if only academically, so I feel I must point out that some dialogue-heavy scenes suffer from “floating head” disease; once the characters start talking, there’s very little description of what else is happening in the scene. The most important reason I feel that this is a flaw is that we’re dealing with a mixture of animal characters of very different sizes and predator/prey persuasions, but it often feels like everyone is exactly the same size (six leopards fit into a bar frequented by foxes and rabbits?) and sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the traditionally prey animals are as innately fearful of the traditionally predator animals as they ought to be. I think this collection has a lot of potential. The characters are bright and intriguing, and the dialogue itself (despite my previous criticism) flows well. My favourite character is Groovy, the fox. Since each story blends into the next nicely and all the characters are connected, I’d like to see this developed into a longer novel. If the author just wants to leave this as the collection of short stories it is, having now revived his childhood characters, and move on, that’s understandable. If he is at all interested in refining these stories, though, I would urge him to do so. Turning short stories and novellas into full-length novels, even after the shorter work has been published, is certainly not impossible. I own some novels that were once short stories as well as the anthologies they came from, all traditionally published by big name houses. Keep writing! I will definitely be keeping an eye on new works from S. L. Jackson.

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