Book review: The Following Contest is a Dark Match

Sep 28

As a fan of professional wrestling, most books I find on the market for that genre are real-life accounts from current or former wrestlers. There’s the occasional tell-all book from somebody who used to be in the business, too.

There’s not a ton of fiction about the sport that’s worth reading, however. That is one of the main reasons I am skeptical when I see fictional books on the profession, especially ones without any feedback on places such as Amazon. But it’s also a reason my interest piques, as I like seeing the fictional stories about the profession.

I found The Following Contest is a Dark Match for the Kindle and it was listed at fewer than 120 pages. It had a story that seemed interesting and the 99-cent price made this a perfect Kindle grab.

For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed.

The book is based on the life of Kevin Davidson, a decent, at best, independent wrestler out of North Carolina. He has a beautiful girlfriend who has money and seemingly worships him and he works as this wrestler, trying to make his dream come true. He’s a believable character, especially if you know any independent wrestlers. I know several (who I am working on some writing projects with) and the way author Chris Shore paints the picture is an pretty accurate portrayal of life on the independent circuit.

How is that?

The pay (if any) stinks, the crowds are small and the reality of making it to a place like the WWE is slim, at best.

Shore builds Davidson’s character and soon we realize that Davidson is mediocre at best. So much so that he attempts a move during a match that the promoter had specifically told him not to do. He botches it and nearly kills himself. But from that comes some sort of psychic power. He sees his future and it’s not so great.

The rest of the book helps build things a bit, showing how this lifestyle can explode quickly.

As normal, I don’t want to give away the full story here. So, I’ll let the Amazon page description tell you enough to hopefully get you hooked:

After a fall while wrestling that knocks him unconscious, Kevin awakes to find that he has psychic abilities, including clairvoyance, ESP, and the ability to see the future.

Kevin finds that having these powers can be both a blessing and a curse. As his new powers drag him into a life he never imagined, he must decide to help a young boy whose future is very dark, while trying to reconcile the truth of his first vision: if he continues to wrestle, he will be killed in the ring.

I can say that it was a pretty interesting read. I got through it in about two days and the ending is pretty solid. It also leaves the door open for future books and from reading the author’s website, it sounds like this will be a series of books. Therefore, the beginning of this book will likely eventually make even more sense in future books.

The Good

Shore tells a pretty solid story. Kevin Davidson is a believable and, for the most part, a likable character. You can really connect with him — especially if you know anybody who is a professional wrestler. He wants to make it big, but he’s like so many other independent wrestlers trying to make it — battling a serious uphill climb where the reality of making it big is likely going to end in a slide back down the hill.

The other big characters — his girlfriend Julie, her father, his best friend and his co-wrestler — are all built well. You can see them and feel their emotions. The key in a good book to me is good character building and I think Shore succeeds in that.

The actual story line is different. It’s not something I would normally read. But having that sort of thing differentiates this book from others. Shore does a good job at selling it and the reader can tell there was some care in building this story.

One of the best things I liked about the book was the “wrestling talk.” Using terms like babyface, heel, kayfabe and putting somebody over gives the book the feel of wrestling. Even better, for non-wrestling fans, there’s a glossary to help with the terms. For wrestling fans, I think something like this is better because we don’t have to see terms worked around for the non-fans.

The Bad

As many of you know, one of my pet peeves in books are grammatical and/or spelling errors. The book was pretty clean, but there were three glaring mistakes later in the book that made me cringe.

At one point, there was a “were their” instead of “where their.” The were/where issue happened one more time, that I saw. And then there was a point where a character was saying “hi” or noting it, and it was spelled “high.”

Being that I only paid 99 cents for the book, I wasn’t to the point where I fully flipped. But these are the little things that my eyes always seem to catch.

There were a couple plot spots where I thought things were a little rushed and could have used a little more in detail and explanation. The ending, too, seemed a little rushed. I thought the scene itself could have been played up a little bit more. I like how Shore wrote the actual ending because it gives the reader the chance to think about what happened and make their own conclusions and it also allows that cliffhanger for the next book. But, I thought the events leading into it could have been a little deeper, thus making the ending a bit more punchy.

Overall thoughts

In the end, I enjoyed this book and will look forward to the next installment of the series. The plot is good and I think, for the most part, Shore does a very good job in telling the story. It’s a quick read, too. I like when I get into a book and finish it quickly because it means it’s a topic I enjoy and a story I’m getting into. In total, it took about three to three and a half hours for me to read, but it was a nice read.

If you are a wrestling fan, I’d definitely encourage you to snag this book and give it a read. Though non-wrestling fans might not like it as much, I’d say some still will like it because the characters are strong and the story is good. Give it a try — you never know.

Rating

This book was pretty solid. The spelling mistakes I caught do bother me, but if it’s somebody doing his own publishing, I have a hard time going too nuts about it. I’m sure if I ever finish the books I’m working on and have to go something away from traditional publishing, people will catch an error or two as well. It happens. Still, I always count these things in the ratings. The end result for me with this book was a solid read, with a good story and characters, mixed in with a few holes and errors. I’d rate it somewhere between a 3.5 – 4 out of 5 stars.

On the web

See more about Shore at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

If you are interested in purchasing The Following Contest is a Dark Match, follow this link.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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