Note: I'm not related to, or friends with, the author. I won a paperback copy through Goodreads' First Reads giveaway.2.25 stars for Darkstar by Carol J. Hansen. And, normally, I don't review anything under 3 stars but, seeing how Ms. Hansen included a note with the book asking for a review, I felt compelled to offer my thoughts. So this review is provided for the purposes of helping other readers decide if they want to spend their money to buy a copy and showing the author why I rated as I did.The cover, with its beautiful colors and celestial imagery, evoked feelings of magic and fantasy; the easy-to-read font assured I wouldn't have to squint; the paper felt durable, not thin and flimsy like some self-published wares. There was a tidy table of contents, proper formatting of page headers and footers, and even an "Acknowledgements" section at the end of the book. Ms. Hansen obviously put much thought and planning into the presentation and production of her novel - I only wish she'd done the same with the story itself.I spent well over two hours drafting a detailed critique of Ms. Hansen's debut novel. But when I started editing my critique it just didn't feel right. Maybe I have too big a soft spot for people following their dreams. (Ms. Hansen's motto is "Dare to dream.") Or, perhaps, I know the novel will likely stay in its current version with no further revisions, so why waste my time making suggestions and giving unsolicited advice? After all, that's what a professional editor is for, and if Ms. Hansen wanted such a critique, she would've had one long before she sent the manuscript to Create Space.So I decided to stick with my usual review style: a what I liked / didn't like approach that will, hopefully, help other readers make an informed decision.SynopsisAlec, who is expected to assume his grandfather's position as Grand Wizard of Warwickshire after his older brother and heir to the family wizardry is banned from magic and their family, leaves England to stay with his uncle in the United States. On Alec's first day of school in the States - he was home schooled for the first seventeen years of his life - he meets Amrie with whom there is an instant attraction. Amrie, a sixteen year old small town "good girl" haunted by mysterious dreams, suspects Alec isn't like all the other boys, especially after she experiences weird and sometimes dangerous happenings whenever he's around. But when Amrie's life - and that of her family and friends - is threatened, Alec must make a decision: accept the Mysticryss and forget about Amrie; or, reject his family duty, thereby dooming their wizardry to extinction, in order to have a normal life with the girl he loves.Let's start with what I didn't like:* POV is split between two protagonists who narrate in the first person. Thus, at the beginning of certain chapters, I was forced out of the story in order to identify the head I was in.* Inconsistent use of, and constant switching between, the present and past tense. Again, this forced me out of the story numerous times.* Several scenes mirrored the Twilight Saga. Formulaic writing, if it is to go unnoticed by the average reader, must exist within an already tight story.* Multiple grammar mistakes, such as "...but then he was raised in a whole different world than you and I was, so he's bound to be...(p. 219)" Other pet peeves: its instead of it's; affect instead of effect; in response to a question, people shook their heads to indicate "yes."* Many plot holes. For instance, in chapter ten, Alec says to his mom, "I experienced my first episode at a football game...(p.100)" But what about the "episode" he experienced upon his arrival in Logan (p. 53)?What did I like?I mentioned the book's lovely cover art, right? (Kudos to Liviu G. Peicu, the designer.) The matching bookmark Ms. Hansen included was also high quality.The underlying themes, while buried under the previously mentioned problems, were strong, universal ones.The Mysticryss (family wizardry), although under-developed, had potential. I enjoyed how Grandfather's powers were transferred to his soon-to-be apprentices. And, while none of the "powers" were anything new to the fantasy genre, there was potential for something fresh.Final thoughtsDarkstar had the potential to be WAY better. Additional editing and revisions - to fix blatant errors, to develop characters, to tighten plot, to improve structure - would've given readers a more satisfying experience.Currently, I have no plans to purchase Wizard, number two in the trilogy.