The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher: Review

The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher
Title: The Oversight
Author: Charlie Fletcher
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: May 2014
Length: 464
Series: Oversight Trilogy (#1)
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: ARC

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From GoodReads:

Once the Oversight, the secret society that policed the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their numbers can be counted on a single hand. When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled - but the girl is a trap. As the borders between this world and the next begin to break down, murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow.

The Oversight is about a group whose job is to keep the supernatural and human folk out of each other's way. The Oversight used to be a large and important group; however, a few years ago, a poor decision was made, and now the group has dwindled in size. There are only five members left. Nonetheless, the group is doing the best that it can when an interesting young woman comes into their midst. 

I was so excited to read The Oversight. It is an urban fantasy novel set in the Victorian times, plus the main characters are charged with keeping the peace between the supernaturals and the humans. I was set to be in love with this book. I was even more excited when I saw that the author made a list of all of the characters and gave a brief description of each character in the beginning of the book, so you could keep track of everyone. After reading some long, epic fantasy novels recently, I appreciate being able to keep track of everyone easily. Unfortunately, this book left me a bit wanting. Instead of listing what I liked and what I didn't like, I want to briefly discuss the main parts of the book: writing, characters, plot, and world building. 

Fletcher's writing was okay, but the book read younger than I was expecting. For some reason, I thought that the book was an adult novel. The writing felt a lot younger. I would classify it as a young YA novel. I am noting this, because I feel that my reading of this book and this review are colored by my expectation that this book was for an adult when it did not read as such. Someone coming into this book with a different demographic in mind will probably have a different experience with this book. Now let's get back to the writing. Like I mentioned earlier, the writing was okay; however, there were a few weird style decisions. The main one was that one of the characters spoke French and sometimes her dialogue was written in French. However, it was unclear if she was always talking in French and that the other characters spoke in English to each other and French to her or if the characters were always speaking in English. I mention this, because these early French-English conversations really confused me. I read an ARC, so these exchanges may read better in the final copy.

The characters were interesting and unique. The protagonists had neat magical abilities that felt novel and at the very least didn't reuse tired-out tropes. Although the characters had great magical abilities, I never felt like I got to know the characters very well. In the characters' descriptions at the beginning of the book, the cook is noted as being a former pirate. I thought that this was really cool, but this background is rarely (if ever) mentioned in the book. I think I got more background from the character descriptions than from the book itself. For this reason, the characters felt flat, and I didn't feel very invested in them.

In regards to the plot, it was fun. It wasn't anything earth-shattering, but it did a good job of introducing the reader to the universe and the trilogy. This book felt like a first book in a series. In other words, the book asked more questions than answered them. This can be okay at times. I am not sure, if the book succeeded in this. I can say, however, that I read the book fairly quickly, so I must have been entertained.

Finally, the world building was neat but frustrating. The world building itself was great. I thought the world had some great and fantastical elements, even if some of them were common fantasy tropes. Unfortunately, Fletcher did a lot of info dumping. The dialogue at times was just a bit painful, because Fletcher needed to squeeze in some more information. 

Overall, The Oversight was a fun book, but it had quite a few problems. As I noted earlier, I feel that a lot of my problems with the book are due to me expecting this book to be an adult book when in fact it is more of a young YA novel. The Oversight's world is truly fascinating, so I hope that the second book is stronger. I think this could be a great series.

I give this book a 3 out of 5.

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