As I said before, I always find it interesting to see what people put in their reviews.
So I was particularly pleased to get this incredibly detailed review/critique of my novel Survive. Once again, there are things that the reviewer has seen that I didn’t realise that I was writing. In fact, I had to read this review several times, there was just so much information in it.
Here’s what they had to say,
A gripping survival story that transitions into a scary conspiracy thriller. Unmissable!
Survive is a fantastic book that reaches out to the reader on many levels. Undoubtedly, given its moniker, it is a book about survival. But this survival is as much about overcoming the stark, cold, corporate power of Galactographic and their star Ballantyne Alysom (or Bal as he’s known), as it is about surmounting the flora and fauna on the strange planet the explorers are stranded on.
From the beginning, Bal is a character reflecting the traits of so many celebrities, those worshipped stars whose egos arrive in the room before they do. Wrapped up in a cocoon of fixers, agents and close protection, and encasing their entourages and workers in iron-clad contracts, forcing them to forsake any rights on intellectual property they may have. These people are well known to any reader, and this makes Bal, as the central antagonist immediately relatable. When the characters interact with Bal, you can feel it, awe at first, as they realize they’re in the presence of their idol, but once in his orbit, they’re pulled in, get too close to their star, and soon they begin to burn. Repulsion overtakes awe, and Bal sends out flares of hate in return. Incendiary and captivating, these scenes had me rivetted, unable to pull away, even when watching a film, I couldn’t stop from flicking back to my Kindle.
Mr Dee writes with a fluid capability weaving a story of intricacy, complexity and sheer drama. As the book unfolds, the reader knows from the outset, the voyage to Certus 2-12 to witness two planets merging to become one is going to be fraught with conflict and bitter personality clashes. For Davis, the cameraman and his sound editor wife Anisia, working with Bal was never going to be an easy ride…Little did they know, just how bumpy that ride was to be.
The characters have been deftly crafted, each with a believable edge. Davis is a straightforward, no-nonsense chap, who just wants to secure a shooting gig to pay for his rent and get enough to go on holiday. Anisia, his wife clearly wears the trousers. Smart-talking, feisty but also naïve, for as she hustles Bal at the beginning to get the salary package they want, she doesn’t actually realize how dangerous undertaking such a blatantly underhanded move with a man like Bal is. A misjudgement that puts her firmly in Bal’s sights for the whole journey. The crew consists of yes men to Bal. Walt, a genius technologist and engineer, who financially backs Galactographic, and thus Bal, is a private person, happy to tinker with his gears and components rather than sling barbs and play one-upmanship. Lev, the navigator isn’t an easy character to read, although he appears to be the balancing cadence to Bal’s paranoiac-inspired, vitriolic tempo. He’s loyal, but is it because he believes in Bal, or is it a case of not biting the hand that feeds? Passengers, Mel Andros, a galactography expert, almost on par with Bal from her celebrity status, and her students bring a further dynamic, building tense moments when Bal’s adamant need to always be right, the only one who has the knowledge, plays out in front of the originally star struck student team. The reader witnesses the student’s eyes glistening with admiration quickly cloud with disillusion, as the veil drops and the true nature of their hero is revealed.
Much of the book is told from Davis’ perspective as the cameraman, he captures everything. Later Mel Andros, and finally Bryan Hodge, a mining expert takes the reign, giving another layer of depth to an already richly nuanced story. I found it fascinating that Bal’s own voice – in his mind – is never heard, but the impact of his obsessive nature, arrogance and precarious attitude to apparent risk is felt. An impact that only enlarges, like a snowball, rolling down a hill, growing eventually to lethal proportions.
As I read this book, I really sensed the discomfort of the characters. Shut up on a starship with a megalomaniac of questionable sanity, hurtling out to the farthest reaches of the universe, knowing that few people, if any at the point of departure, actually knew the true destination, their genuine unease and rising uncertainty for their safety is palpable.
It is apparent that Mr Dee understands how tempers fray into pieces in such confined quarters, and his dialogue seems to be borne of his experiences of being at sea for so long. Authentic, uncomfortable and biting scenes demonstrate that, as Captain of the ship, Bal’s word is final. Those brave enough to stand up against his aggressive behavior are swiped down with a “you signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement” or “read your contract, everything you film is mine” retorts from Bal’s lips. He only falls short of saying ‘I own you.’ This is an allegory to those in corporations or in countries that have suffered, but have had their voices silenced by fear, intimidation and brutal domination. I found this play of subjugating the crew and passengers, chilling and very poignant, mirroring the current status of many places across the world today.
Survive is a multi-layered, brilliant sci-fi survival novel, transitioning seamlessly into a terrifying conspiracy thriller that had me shocked. Working in so many aspects, not least the worldbuilding, which is cast in the light of stunning realism, and the accurate cosmological and technical aspects, I’m at a loss to understand why this book only has two reviews. The details are superb, but are not overflowing, detracting from the fast-moving action. The scenes, however in the caves, must be mentioned, as they were so real they made me feel claustrophobic. Having been in underground caves myself, I could feel the harrowing pressures of each moment as I read each word. All to the power of Mr Dee’s storytelling! Readers should give this book a go. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Phew! I’m in awe of the time taken to write such a missive, and can only wonder at the effect the book must have had on the reader to prompt it. As I said before, I’m not conscious of the deeper meanings of what I write when I’m writing. I just put the words down and leave it up to the reader to get what they want from it.
For these who don’t know, here’s a little more about the book.
Ballantyne Alysom is the Galaxy’s most famous explorer.
Davis Jansen is the cameraman he takes to record his latest mission.
Alysom is giving nothing away, except that it’s something that’s never been seen before.
When things go wrong, they are marooned on a savage and uncharted planet. The survivors need a leader they can rely on.
Jansen watches and records it all as Alysom’s true character is revealed. He’s not the genial and fearless explorer that everyone sees.
The Far Explorer is a ship riddled with infighting and jealousy, Alysom is controlling and arrogant, nothing like the man that his reputation suggests.
Jansen’s efforts to expose the truth carry just as much risk as surviving on the planet did.
Find out if enough lies can ever bury the truth in Survive, the tale of Ballantyne Alysom.
“I recommend this book, it’s the kind you can’t put down till the end and then you’re disappointed when the end happens.”
I guess that it’s good that I’m encouraging people to think and it’s great to read comments and find out what it all means to them.
I suppose that books are very much like pictures. Every person who sees it interprets it in their own way.
Books must do the same thing, as there are as many interpretations of the text as there are readers.
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