164 of 179 people found the following review helpful
A Hybrid Survival Guide/Novel
, March 27, 2012
This review is from: A Distant Eden (Kindle Edition)
The basics: The technological, civilized, industrial world comes to an end with a giant Carrington event (solar storm). The author looks at the efforts of a small group of people, led by a man who planned carefully, to survive.
If I were rating this as a $9.99 novel, it would deserve one, at most two stars. However, the author is very upfront about his intentions: he wants this to be not simply a novel, but at least as much a guide that will both provide information on concepts he develops in detail, and inspire people to search out more information on concepts he sketches over lightly.
As a result (and to give him credit, he acknowledges this), he falls woefully short on sketching realistic characters, to say nothing of showing character development. For a presumably self-published work, basics like spelling, grammar and word choice are generally quite sound with only a few errors/quirks. His female characters are particularly lightly sketched, though no worse than some fairly big-name authors like Harold Coyle.
The author's style can most kindly be described as workmanlike. That implies a bit of stodginess, but it also implies competence. He develops the story in parallel threads, each reaching a climax of suspense/violence at the same time. A trifle cliche, but in his hands he makes it work reasonably well as a technique. The quality of his dialog tends to range from adequate to penny dreadful, with most of it being adequate. As noted above, there really is no character development, something the author readily acknowledges.
The temporal flow of the story feels somewhat forced: the author is clearly trying to pack in information and forcefully present some fairly abrupt (but rational) shifts in morality.
Not surprisingly, he is at his strongest when conveying information (and opinions) relating to survival after a catastrophe. I also rather liked his dry, but competent exposition of the potential for social redevelopment and [re]construction of a trading society from the ashes.
Given his intent, I give him three stars, and a bonus star, partly for effort, partly for the harsh but rational way he presents moral choices, and partly for a surprisingly good execution overall.
If you're looking for a good disaster novel, this isn't it. If you're looking for a post-apocalypse novel with zombies, this really, really, really isn't it. But if you're looking for something that's a decent read and is filled with fairly good research (and many more starting points for your own research) on survival, then this could be it.
Overall, I commend the author. This was clearly a labour of love, and his effort shows. At $0.99, I'd definitely enjoy seeing more from the author, provided he works at polishing his craft.
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