I won another giveaway on booklikes. The author sent it as a .doc-file this afternoon. It's a short read, so here's my opinion already:
The story well deserves telling. A teenage girl is mad at her father because he never told her the truth about her mother, who left when Maya was a baby. Vulnerable in her self-finding phase, she gets involved with a cult that pushes her into robbery, prostitution and drug dealing. When Maya finally grows wary of her superiors, they betray her to the police. In prison, the girl gets to know other fallen women, hears their stories and tells hers. Back in freedom, she has to build a new life for herself in spite of her criminal past.
Good material for a book, isn't it? Now let's see how Mr. Ben wrote it down and how he could make it better. "Maya Initiate 39" reads like a first draft, and a crude one at that. The first 1/3 of the book consists in an introduction: We get to know Maya and her supposed father, follow the girl to school, hear her ask about her mother for the first time when she's 11 years old. The story lags and drudges, no tension yet. Jump forward: Maya is fifteen and gets lured into the sect. This part lacks logic. "We will help you find your destiny" is not enough to turn a protected, well behaved girl into a mindless thrall, even if she's been wondering who her mother is. Still, some tension starts building.
Then, her criminal life. This part could use some elaborating, some extra length. Next, prison. The lifechanging moment. This is actually the best part of the book. Afterwards there's only an endlessly long happily-ever-after, the tension gone except for the moment Maya has to tell her love interest about her past. But as this book's message is "repent and you will be rewarded", he forgives her having shot and crippled his father in her first armed robbery.
For thirty pages, Maya is a child with no personality of her own. Then, for some time, she's a character. After the prison part, she turns into what the internet calls a Mary Sue: an unbearably and unrealistically perfect girl with no flaws nor difficulties whatsoever, everybody's instant friend and role model.
About style, the most important part of literature: Mr. Ben doesn't have an ounce of it.