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Customer Reviews

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on June 2, 2012
I read this book in about 24 hours. It kept my attention with all the near-death experiences Joe and Mary face in hopes of saving their family.

Fans of the Hunger Games or The Road (McCarthy) will enjoy this novel.
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on March 13, 2013
Never Too Far is solidly constructed, has a reasonable plot, contains some interesting ideas, and generally delivers. So, why only 3 stars?

Well, there are two issues which I really feel hold it back in a big way.

Firstly, the plot is totally linear which gets a bit wearing after a while. There aren't any sub-plots, no real twists and, although it does feature some tense moments, there's nothing there to make it a 'page turner'.

Secondly, and an even bigger issue than my first point, is that there is no depth to the story. Is this supposed to be our Earth? What's happened? When is the story happening? Who are these different groups? What's Mary's real story? What's gone before? Normally these things would be revealed during the course of a story but Never Too Far doesn't. It leaves one feeling like you've just read the third book in a five-book series having not bought the first two.

An example of what I mean is when they are jumped by a group of savages. Who are these people? Why do they behave this way? Why do they suddenly give up? Aren't they familiar with rifles? And so on.

I'm sure these details could be added and also a few intriguing twists included. It'd make for a significantly longer book which the author might feel needed splitting but it'd certainly make it much more memorable.

I would have liked to have given Never Too Far more than 3 stars but, as it is, I just can't.
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on June 1, 2012
This is a great odyssey. They meet strange and quirky characters along the way like Huck Finn. It is set in a stark futuristic world like Mad Max. And a story line reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath. I really liked the main characters. The whole time I read it I felt like I wanted to just put my arms around them and hold them together as they went through their trial.
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on May 25, 2012
From the first paragraphs to the engaging conclusion, Thomas puts together a story that keeps you wondering..."could this really happen?" Part other-world, part realism this engaging book keeps you wanting to find out more. Each chapter is a new adventure for the characters and your heart ache's with the desire to help them in their quest. Every hardship grips at you, while the small victories make you believe maybe all is right with the world after all.
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on November 12, 2012
This is my first review. I have heard that only 1% of readers write reviews and yet, I rely on their opinions when deciding when and where to spend my money. I have enjoyed this novel so much, that I have decided I needed to share. Therefore, here I am.

I loved Never Too Far: the storyline, the characters, the writing, the beginning, the middle, and the ending. I was caught up in the journey and wanted to help the main characters through the rough bits. I cared about them and I wanted to see how the journey was going to unfold. I stared with the same wide-eyed wonder at the landscapes of the city and the people within it.

What needed help? In every story, there is something that just needs help. In this one, I believe it was both the title and the front cover. The front cover is totally unmemorable and really doesn't have much appeal or significance. Also, I was wondering about the author's choice of title for his work. Never Too Far? Would like to talk with him about it and see what the significance of that is exactly. Is it because it was a journey? It was a journey that was inching toward much more than just money, but also toward growing up and sustenance for his family's wellbeing. Is any journey too far with those goals in mind? I don't think so.

I can't think of another title for it, and this is not a bad one, but I think there could be another more catchy title. I'm not sure this one lures readers. Of course, many great works had such titles; the first that leaps to mind is A Rose for Emily. I wonder how many people questioned that title? And, I think this story did remind me of William Faulkner. The sentence structure did not but the author's distance from the characters and yet closeness, together with a fondness for them (maybe even a gentleness toward them?) reminded me of Faulkner.

When other reviewers spoke of this as "not great literature," I think that this was due to the subject matter. The whole SciFi genre was throwing them off perhaps. I believe the writing is superb and so is the characterization. I liked these characters and, more importantly, I knew these characters. I knew what they would do in certain situations and I knew what they would not do. They were definitely those salt-of-the-earth types. Maybe Joe was a lot like my grandfather when he was deciding who he was at the turn of the century? Except that it was closer to the 25th century than the 20th. I guess what I'm saying is that, really, this could have happened in any time period, and the characterization didn't suffer because of the setting or the genre.

Lastly, I'd like to say that I did not mind the fact that what happened to the world was not covered. Instead, it was the way it was. This is very much the way the dirt eaters would be I think. They wouldn't waste time wondering what happened; they had much too much energy to be spent on surviving.

Recommendation: get it, savor it, remember it (and the author). Oh, yeah, then review it!!
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on June 6, 2012
This was a very well written story. You will want to keep reading to find out what happens next. The story starts in a post-apocalyptic world where possessing oil/gas is a capital crime. Given this premise, the story is well told and the events stay true to that scenario. Never Too Far is well worth reading.

I especially liked how the author handled the ending. Too many authors seem to either just sum up the book as if they had gotten tired or writing; or they drag out the ending on and on and on trying to tie up every single loose end. This story ends and it's done. The author could still write a sequel or do other stories in this world, but the ending is not forced. Good job.
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on May 31, 2012
I was quickly drawn into the story of Joe and his harrowing journey. It was so good, I read it in one sitting and can't wait to read more from Mr. Christopher.
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on February 5, 2013
Set in some future version of the Dust Bowl, Joe and his family struggle to get by each day. Jobs are nonexistent, food is scarce, and fuel is so valuable that private possession is punishable by death. After discovering a vehicle abandoned by the Guardian Party, Joe and his older brother syphon out the left over fuel and conjure up a plan to sell it at a high price. Joe volunteers for the journey and is accompanied by the silent, pregnant girl who mysteriously appeared at their door one day. The unexpected duo encounters hardships along the road and plenty of strange and dangerous people in the city while looking for Templeton, to whom they are instructed to sell the fuel.

This is a wonderful adventure story full of surprises and heart pounding moments as Joe and Mary encounter all sorts of crazy scenarios. The language flows smoothly for the most part with just a few hiccups here and there. The action sequences are clear and the descriptions of the city are remarkable. As a reader, I was taken right into the heart of the adventure. Joe and Mary's relationship develops easily and feels genuine--not forced for plot purposes at all.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes stories adventure stories.
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on June 19, 2013
I enjoyed reading "Never Too Far." I know that sounds underwhelming, but these days, that recognition of enjoyment comes as no small statement of praise. Recently, I have found that reading has often become a bit of a chore. Why? Well, I think with the new ease of publishing today, there are many "materials" being presented as books that are, in truth, no such thing. They are poorly formatted manuscripts, or paragraphs full of typos, or sentences that are grammatically challenged, or promising stories that head off the reservation, or all of the above. It's not that the works are worthless - most of the time they do have some merit, but they're not ready for prime time. And it is often left to the poor reader to fight through the author's shoddy mechanics to discover the worth of their "book." That's not the way it should be, but in our brave new Indie world, that is often the way it is.

"Never Too Far," on the other hand, was a pleasure to read. The mechanics were excellent. There were no format problems. The writing was terrific. The main characters and their growth, individually and as a couple, was done believably and well. Nevertheless, when I got to the end I felt unsatisfied. I think the book needs a bit more story than we are given in order to make the experience of reading the novel worth our time. In other words, the main characters were terrific, but the overall storyline they found themselves in wasn't quite up to their quality. The world they traveled through during their long journey was vivid, interesting, sometimes disturbing but, in the end, incomprehensible.

The last third of the book felt rushed to me, at least from a plotting standpoint, and the end was abrupt. There doesn't seem to be an overall connected plot and there is little clarification at the end. Yes, the key relationship is clarified, I don't mean that, it's the world they find themselves in and the larger plot that I'm talking about. The long range future for this world seems black. The short range future for our characters also seems pretty dim, even though I think I'm supposed to feel hopeful there at the end. But I don't. I really don't. I mean, excuse me, we know what's ahead for our intrepid characters as they struggle to get back home (and now they have an additional burden). After all, we spent most of the book travelling in the other direction! They don't have water. They don't have supplies. They don't even have their paltry rifle anymore. They're in a dark forest crammed with heartless thieves just waiting to try and kill them again. And if our heroes get out of the forest in one piece there's still the killing desert and the lethal dust storms, etc., etc. There's no way in hell they're getting home.

The other bone to pick with the author has to do with the characters' names. I mean, c'mon, a pregnant orphan girl named Mary travelling to a distant city with Joseph? Ouch. And in the city they meet a helpful black woman named Eve? Please.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters (except for their names) and the wonderfully poignant and natural growth of their love for each other. I thought the journey the characters took across their world was very visual, exciting, and well told. The writing is smooth and memorable. I just wish the overarching storyline was more worthy of the otherwise fine level of writing.
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on June 8, 2012
In his first foray into authorship, Mr. Christopher espouses a truth that the reader would do well to memorize and practice daily.

We meet Frank and Joe singing Red Barchetta in a dystopian future where the people have been convinced that "security is sacrifice." They live in the barren dust bowl where people routinely starve to death. Of course Mr. Christopher, a presumed libertarian, knows that food is plentiful around the world when free trade is present. He knows the Ethiopian famines followed generations of plenty and came only after a dictatorship was set up and socialized farming. He is warning us through a brilliant and compelling tome not to let this happen to us!

Joe must set off to the city with contraband to sell on the black market if his family is to survive. Again, Mr. Christopher, who I can only assume is an anarcho-capitalist, is weaving into a marvelous work of fiction several warnings we would do well to heed. Giving up our right to free commerce (Joe could only sell his item on the black market, being caught with it was a death sentence), giving up our right to work and be remunerated for it (day laborers needed a permit to be allowed to search for work), giving up our privacy, allowing disarmament, allowing injected ID tags, the list goes on.

Hitler said, "The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear." The city guard in this amazingly well written essay said, "But he's not obeying my authority. I'm within my rights to shoot him."

A compelling book, enjoyable and easy to read, full of warnings on the dangers of letting go of liberty, and worthy of 6 stars. Frank and Joe's best chum and perennial hero, Chet Morton making a last minute appearance to save the day may have bumped it to 7 stars, were that possible.
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