Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review - The Explorer (JS)

The Explorer by James Smyth


I found this book, while browsing for something new to read on my Kindle, I read the description, and thought the story sounded a like ‘Alien’ and as the price tag was low, I thought it was worth a look. 

This is the description:

A tense, claustrophobic and gripping science fiction thriller from the author of The Testimony. When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers. However, in space, nothing goes according to plan. The crew wake from hyper sleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue. However, as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiralling towards his own inevitable death … unless he can do something to stop it.

This book showed me the danger of only reading product descriptions. I have done it before many times, and it has always been fine. As I said, with this one, I thought it sounded like ‘Alien’ but soon found out that I could not have been more wrong.

Without giving too much of the plot away, you have a crew of astronauts sent out on a mission to travel into space, to see things that no other human has seen. At a certain point, the ship would turn and the crew would return home.  The non-scientist on board the ship, Cormac the journalist, would send reports back to show people back home how they were all doing.  The journey starts with tragedy as when the crew awaken from their sleep, they find their Captain dead, but they journey on, determined that this will not alter anything. One by one, the rest of the crew die or are incapacitated until only Cormac is left to cope with what happens next.

Therefore, I started with big hopes of the story, but these soon faded and I found myself being bogged down and actually thought of giving up on it.  Cormac tells the story, now if you are going to have one character left in a story like then you really need to make him likeable or at least interesting. I found him annoying and as later on in the book you are told the back-story regarding his relationship with his wife, I found myself disliking him for most of the book 

Though this is a sci-fi book, do not worry about not understanding the science. If anything the science in this tale, is a little bit odd and you find yourself saying, ‘but that doesn’t make any sense at all!’ I mentioned my dislike of Cormac, well unfortunately there is also no real connection made with the rest of the crew. At first, the reader just is told the order in which they die in, then you see them through Cormac’s interviews, it is only later on in the book that they become more real and you understand what is driving Guy to do what he does. By then though I’m afraid to say that you have lost a lot of the interest that you had as a reader.

The writing through out the book is not the best, with a slow pace, and I found it monotonous at times. Once you reach the halfway point however, it does pick up, and it becomes slightly more interesting, so you find yourself going along with it, just to see what happens next so though I did think about giving up, I persevered, and am glad in a way that I did.

This is the first book I have read of this author, and I must say that after this book, I’m not inclined to read much more of his, it’s also given me a warning about just relying on product reviews.

6 out of 10