Book Review – ‘Salvation’ (#3 Sanctuary) by Caryn Lix

Another twist in the saga as a bunch of powered teens battle hungry aliens…

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 432

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

These are the words Kenzie has always lived by. The problem is, she’s fallen down too many times to count.

Kenzie and her friends have already escaped two vicious alien attacks—not to mention the corporate bounty hunters sent to capture them. They’re haunted by the friends they’ve lost and the hard choices they’ve had to make in this war they never asked for.

And now, thanks to superpowers she received from the very aliens she’s fighting, Kenzie has stranded everyone on a strange planet with no way off. She just wanted a safe place from the monstrous creatures terrorizing her world, but this new planet has dangers of its own, and Kenzie will have to uncover its secrets if she has any hope of ever making it home again.

Sacrifice is nothing new for Kenzie. She’ll do anything—anything—to destroy the aliens that killed both of her parents. But how can Kenzie save Earth if she can’t even save the people she loves?

Salvation’ is a wonderful and unexpected twist on the Sanctuary trilogy. This concluding novel really captured my imagination but managed to stay grounded in reality as protagonists have to face consequences of their actions.

We see more loss in ‘Salvation’ and I’m on the fence over how this is dealt with… but I guess for a YA novel, and needing to move the plot forward, the author did justice for the characters and story, despite the gruelling situations.

I don’t feel like we got much more character development in ‘Salvation’ – the characters have already been put through the ringer. Here, it is more about strengthening their resolve in the face of desperation and insurmountable odds.

I also feel, for the first time, the aliens were finally grounded in the narrative, their backstory is revealed and no longer felt like a two-dimensional, single-minded antagonist.

There is still a juvenile tone to the narrative – as that is the target market for this novel, but I would have liked a more mature and calculated tone to elevate the story and characters. I don’t think it would have isolated the target market, making them feel like intelligent readers.

The pacing is fairly steady and really ramps up in the last quarter of the novel, and had me eagerly flipping through the pages. Though in having said that, I did feel there was a long build up to the conclusion. This is only because we had to go through a whole lot of world building of yet another new environment we find our protagonists in. But it was a fun mystery to unravel… I certainly did not guess it.

In the beginning novels we see a lot of squabbling between the protagonists, but in ‘Salvation’ it is less so because they are a lone group of survivors, reliant on each other to get out of their situation alive. And while Lix does a great job at keeping the clashing personalities strong in the narrative, I felt a need for the characters to have different motivations to create tension, rather than grating personalities. But Lix has done a stellar job in crafting distinct characters that you love to hate, and love to love.

It was a great conclusion to the series, but I was left wanting a little more of resonance on that final paragraph to get a hint at the protagonists’ future… just a minor tweak to really fuel my imagination.

Certainly a great number of surprises and reveals that delighted me. I think it was more tone that stopped me from truly being immersed in the narrative.

Salvation’ has definitely returned to the standard and promise of ‘Sanctuary,’ where ‘Containment’ suffered a little of that middle-book-syndrome. However, a strong finish.

Overall feeling: Surprising sci-fi!

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Containment’ (#2 Sanctuary) by Caryn Lix

A middle book slump for me…

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 496

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They may have escaped Sanctuary, but Kenzie and her friends are far from safe.

Ex-Omnistellar prison guard Kenzie and her superpowered friends barely made it off Sanctuary alive. Now they’re stuck in a stolen alien ship with nowhere to go and no one to help them. Kenzie is desperate for a plan, but she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Everyone has their own dark secrets: Omnistellar, her parents, even Cage. Worse still, she’s haunted by memories of the aliens who nearly tore her to shreds—and forced her to accidentally kill one of the Sanctuary prisoners, Matt.

When Kenzie intercepts a radio communication suggesting that more aliens are on their way, she knows there’s only one choice: They must turn themselves in to Omnistellar and destroy the ship before the aliens follow the signal straight to them. Because if the monstrous creatures who attacked Sanctuary reach Earth, then it’s game over for humanity.

What Kenzie doesn’t know is that the aliens aren’t the only ones on the hunt. Omnistellar has put a bounty on Kenzie’s head—and the question is whether the aliens or Omnistellar get to her first.

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I was so eager to continue with the story of Kenzie and the gang, their fight for survival against greedy corporation Omnistellar, and an alien threat. ‘Containment’ brought all of that in spectacular fashion, but there were a few issues I had that which disappointed me. This novel was laboriously slow. Where was that pacing from ‘Sanctuary?’ We got a few great action scenes, but the rest of ‘Containment’ was bogged down in detail, internal lamenting, and repetition. The continual reiteration of the facts became boring, so too did the repeated use of certain descriptors… I feel like Caryn Lix’s editing team really let her down on this one. I even found a few grammatical errors. With 496 pages, this is a long YA, and it was made worse with the slow pace and juvenile attitudes popping up every now and then from the cast. I felt like a 2 year old kept saying ‘mine.’ The power struggles between the characters could have been dealt with in a better fashion so they weren’t so aggressive and immature to give the narrative a better flow.

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere was also too much repetition from the plot of ‘Sanctuary.’ I know it was to give a symbolic twist to the story – a chance to change an outcome, but it read a lazy and trite. While I love the science fiction of it all, the scary aliens, the strange abilities the teens have, and Lix’s ability to write great action scenes, the soul of this story wanned in comparison to the debut. ‘Containment’ has really suffered from the middle book slump. Let’s hope it’s a slump and not a trend for a downward spiral.

Ultimately, ‘Containment’ wasn’t a terrible experience, it just felt really long. And I wanted something more original to happen within the plot – and I don’t know, the characters to grow up a bit after the experiences they have survived.

I love the action far more than the melodrama and the characters. The cast really shines under pressure and have to fight for survival, but when they are relating to each other, they revert into sullen teens that have me grating my teeth. So I fip-flopped from finding Kenzie and the gang from being annoying to heroic. I hope Caryn Lix can find a balance.

The theme of family (that is of their constructed family) was a pleasure to read. Plus, I definitely felt the scare and anxiety of the hull-shredding aliens in the story. These great points along with some intriguing concepts introduced in ‘Containment’ have me really keen to see where they go in the next sequel ‘Salvation.

It felt very predictable. I only got one surprise from a plot twist at the end, but for the most part this felt like a mediocre read, and I am on the fence about recommending this one… I’d have to wait until reading ‘Salvation’ before doing so, because if it is just a middle book slump, then, I can get over it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Overall feeling: I just wish it was better…

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Containment (#2 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Sanctuary’ (#1 Sanctuary) by Caryn Lix

A slow start for Sanctuary.

Sanctuary (#1 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 480

From Goodreads:

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

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I was very excited for this novel – a space prison jail break mixed up in an alien invasion – all the hallmarks for a riot of a sci-fi read. Count me in.

However, the first half of the book was laboriously slow. I took me over a week just to reach the midway point, continuously putting ‘Sanctuary‘ down for a rest because I wasn’t compelled to read on. The subject matter was fine, it was the pacing. And a bit too much information off topic. I feel you could have edited out 100-150 pages from this first part and not lost a thing. It would have turned ‘Sanctuary‘ into a cracker of a read.

Comparatively, I completed the second half of this novel in an afternoon. The pacing and action were top notch, plenty going on to drive the plot forward, turning points for the characters… there was not much I could fault.

Our protagonist Kenzie didn’t seem all that interesting at the start, but certainly developed into a character I began to care about. She starts out very rule-following and vanilla; and I didn’t really get a strong sense of emotion and connection to other cast members of the novel. Even the growing romantic interest in prisoner Cage – motivations and situations felt tenuous at best. Not so realistic or justifiable. I’m wondering if it simply boiled down to the fact of the horrible pacing in the first half. A more compact, punchier introduction to the world of ‘Sanctuary‘ and getting to know the players in the field may have created the tension needed to create a strong bond?

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The plot and storytelling of ‘Sanctuary‘ was highly entertaining. I was gripped in action scenes, got all the feels from the right places, and even surprised at several plot twists. There was an element of predictability, but not enough to render this read unsurprising or boring. Pacing issues aside, I have to commend Caryn Lix for her debut. I am definitely engrossed enough to be picking up the next novel in this collection ‘Containment.’ Given that the world building is established, characters fleshed out, the sequel should have better pacing, and Caryn Lix’s writing experience improved from publishing ‘Sanctuary.’

I’m on the fence about recommending this one – it took a while for me to get into, and lovers of sci-fi may get bored quickly. But for YA readers who like a touch of science fiction, this may be thoroughly entertaining… so I’m torn. This was a slightly better than average read for me, so maybe it’s worth a shot?

Overall feeling: so-so

Sanctuary (#1 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Sanctuary (#1 Sanctuary) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Immunity’ (#2 Contagion) by Erin Bowman

Bacteria fuelled telepathic zombies (sort of).

Immunity (#2 Contagion) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Horror.

No. of pages: 434

From Goodreads:

They thought their nightmare was over, but Thea, Coen, and Nova’s rescue was only the beginning. After being imprisoned on a ship they thought was their ticket to safety, it’s clear that the threat they left behind isn’t as distant as they’d hoped—and this time the entire galaxy is at risk.

Now that threat is about to be unleashed as an act of political warfare. To prevent an interstellar catastrophe, the survivors must harness the evil they faced on the planet Achlys and learn to wield the only weapon they have left: themselves.

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This was a great conclusion to the series. Plenty of action. Copious twists and turns. All the sci-fi things that I love!

We follow the three escapees from Achlys: Thea, Coen and Nova, and introduce Amber as well as Naree – all taking pivotal roles in not only a political war, but one against the spread of the deadly bacteria.

We get the omnipresent perspective and insights into all the characters, and I like how the sections of the novel were broken up into locations.

The only thing that didn’t quite ring true for me was the pacing. Thea and Coen spent half the novel locked up in a cell, so it sapped all the action and pacing out of the novel.

There is slightly more romance and some of it tied into the Psychrobater achli with bonding pairs, but that felt a little forced rather than borne from a biological imperative, so it felt a little corny – as too did the telepathy. But the latter was a major plot point for the story so I can forgive these interesting side effects of the contagion.

Immunity (#2 Contagion) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

While ‘Immunity’ is heavily plot driven, we get some character development as well. With everything the teens have to overcome and sacrifice, they grow up real fast and start taking into account the safety of planets above their own. Also having a spectrum of cultural backgrounds and sexuality as something every day and matter of fact was refreshing.

I absolutely loved Erin Bowman’s writing style and am definitely picking up her taken trilogy next. Hopeful I have discovered my next auto-but sci-fi author.

I can’t say I predicted this series all too well, I was always surprised by the plot twists and loved how Erin Bowman can craft a reveal.

Totally recommend this to sci-fi geeks like me everywhere, but the pacing wasn’t as good as the debut.

Overall feeling: Oh My SpaceOpera!

Immunity (#2 Contagion) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Wreck Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Contagion’ (#1 Contagion) by Erin Bowman

A brilliant surprise of a read!

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Science Fiction, Horror

No. of pages: 432

From Goodreads:

It got in us.

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

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I picked this up one evening intending to read a few chapters and get a feel for ‘Contagion.’ Skip to 3am and I was halfway through. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It was a little bit ‘Illuminae’ and a little bit ‘Alien.’ I was hooked from start to finish.

The only point that played against ‘Contagion’ for me is a tiny one. We get introduced to a lot of cast members in the debut chapters and it took a lot of concentration to keep it all straight. I nearly sketched up a diagram… but as the narrative began to focus on a small handful as the story progressed my enrapture increased exponentially. This is a real thrill ride.

We get many different perspectives in the novel, some only lasting for a paragraph or two. Normally I would find this jarring, but it drove the story forward, each new member bringing something unique to the storyline, or revealing a plot point. The main characters we end following the most, however are intern scientist Thea (to a Dr. Tarlow – who is also important to this story), Black Quarry survivor Coen, student pilot Nova, and young ambitious captain Dylan. They all have their secrets and all have an individual drive to be where they are. ‘Contagion’ reads a lot like a mystery thriller as each of their back stories comes to light. I loved Erin Bowman’s writing style, it totally captivated my attention from start to finish. The cast all have their own arcs and have changed by the conclusion of the novel. Bowman did not miss a beat. She has made me an instant fan from this book alone.

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Be warned – ‘Contagion’ ends on a cliff hanger. You might want to pick up the sequel ‘Immunity’ straight away… if you’re one that does not have a lot of patience.

There were many plot twist revealed in ‘Contagion.’ Many I did not see coming, and I loved the surprise! I had a few predictions, but none of what I thought came about (well one sort of did, but that’s another story.)

This novel plays with themes of trust, fear and paranoia, the science of how epidemics come about, isolation, zombies (of sorts), and greedy corporations.

An excellent read that I am giving the highest recommendation.

Overall feeling: Holy fuzzknuckle what a ride!

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Contagion (#1 Contagion) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Iceberg’ by Clive Cussler

A clusterf*#k of political incorrectness.

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action Adventure

No. of pages: 340

From Goodreads:

Frozen inside a million-ton mass of ice-the charred remains of a long missing luxury yacht, vanished en route to a secret White House rendezvous.  The only clue to the ship’s priceless-and missing-cargo: nine ornately carved rings and the horribly burned bodies of its crew. 

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I’ve been a fan of Cussler since my teen years, but this singular novel really tested my nerve. I can forgive a little machismo – it’s to be expected in this genre and series, but when Cussler has Dirk Pitt playing a stereotype of a gay man – even so far as to use the word faggot a number of times, I wanted to set the book on fire. It was in such poor taste to read these hate-filled slurs. It highlights all the issues of discrimination that the LGBTQIA+ community face.

Cussler used about every negative trope around this issue in ‘Iceberg’ with the protagonist Dirk Pit undercover as a homosexual artist, staring hungrily at men’s crotches like a sexual predator, acting submissive and weak, wearing over-the-top colourful clothing, and flowery speech. This goes on for half the novel. It is obvious that Cussler adopted this writing style for it to come off as comedic, but it just shows his insensitivity and ignorance.

To compound the issue there are continual cracks about crazy women and menopause, or someone on their period – that was also meant to be jocular. The female characters were irrational tittering things meant to look pretty and fetch coffee. Their only goal to land a good husband. They were diminished to a sexual object, nursemaid, or servant. It came off as highly offensive.

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I just don’t understand. Was Clive Cussler on some sort of acid trip writing ‘Iceberg?’ I’ve read over 15 of his novels and never come across such blatant misogyny. Maybe I should stop making allowances for Cussler’s overused tropes and start calling him on them in my reviews… I read his novels for the emphasised adventure, the marine environment, and the espionage. ‘Iceberg’ was overshadowed with such a distasteful display of tropes and writing I am literally gobsmacked. Way to offend half your audience dude.

Looking at other aspects of ‘Iceberg,’ like pacing and plot, it wasn’t so bad, but by no means anywhere near his best. There was a plot twist at the end that I didn’t see coming, but that too left a horrid taste in my mouth. I enjoyed the surprise, but hated the premise it supported.

In all honesty I do not recommend this book to anyone. If fact Cussler should pull it from his catalogue entirely. I know I would be ashamed to have written a novel like this.

Overall feeling: Anger and nausea.

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Iceberg (#3 Dirk Pitt) Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Film vs Novel – Before I Fall

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Reliving mean girl teen rudeness.

It’s been well over six months since I’ve done a book to film comparison, and given there have been a plethora of titles released recently I thought I’d better pull my finger out 😉

I started reading ‘Before I Fall’ a few times, abandoning it and returning before making any head way. All the immaturity, the teen girl snarkiness and bullying was just so tiresome. Plus the Groundhog styled repetition of the same day lagged the pacing. However I didn’t get that same lengthiness and drag from the film.

Before I Fall FvN Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.jpgI didn’t particularly like Sam for most of the novel. She wears the moniker ‘bitch’ unapologetically and seems to pinball from one social scene to the next, swaying under the banner of peer pressure and grasping to remain at the top of the social hierarchy. Then about halfway through the novel things changed. Sam became much more interesting, her choices became more altruistic. I laughed so hard in her ‘rebellious’ day it added a much needed punch to a novel I was starting to find boring. In contrast the film version of Sam (played by Zoey Deutch – and the main reason I wanted to see this film) seemed to be more of an observer and the quiet one of the group, where in the book she is much more involved in the bullying and teen drama.

Additionally, the sex scene with Rob (her teacher) was messed up – didn’t even know if they have sex, but it is heavily alluded to in the film, whereas the novel kept it at heavy flirtation.

One big difference in the plot was in the book she only repeats the day seven times – it’s much more in the film with numerous versions of the day being flashed up on the screen montage-style.

The supporting cast felt all “very teen” – wrapped up in their own dramas and self-importance. So the characterization was bang on, though I had little patience for their carry on. Sheesh I felt so old reading this book. It didn’t have quite that impact on me with the film version – while they were still representing teens drinking, partying and being rebellious, it didn’t feel as frustrating. Possibly because that behaviour was given less screen time in comparison to the dominance in the story line.

Before I Fall FvN Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Before I Fall’ has a pretty easy writing style, a plain melodic beat that once the pace picked up in the second half of the novel, I flew through. I liked the tone the novel set: it glances at repercussions of behaviour, atonement, bullying, suicide, depression, compassion, and acceptance. For such a wishy-washy teen babbling premise, it alludes to some much more serious issues. The movie kept the concept and tone (and the message) but overall the narrative felt flat and drawn out (but better than the written version). It took a while for the story to get its legs and many of the characters really aren’t that nice of people. But they redeem themselves in increments… something I didn’t really get from the novel.

I found there was also some missed context in some of the scenes of the film – they did not make a whole lot of sense, where in the book there was always an explanation. I think those who have not read the novel before viewing the movie may not quite grasp the relevance of some scenes.

I’d recommend the novel to lovers of YA who don’t mind a slow developing story. Plenty of drama and hijinks. Weird in some places, but the cyclical structure of the story resolves everything nicely. And like the proverbial light in the opening scene, you see it coming and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. The movie was fun – and if you only thought it was okay – and don’t attempt the novel. The visual summarisation is slightly more entertaining in my opinion.

Id’ give the novel 3 ¼ out of 5 stars, and the film a 3 ½ … close, but the film for the win.

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Book Review – ‘Pacific Vortex!’ by Clive Cussler

Dirk Pitt is borne of pages and a passion for oceanic adventure!

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action Adventure

No. of pages: 346

From Goodreads:

Dirk Pitt’s first, most terrific adventure! Dirk Pitt, death-defying adventurer and deep-sea expert, is out to the ultimate test as he plunges into the perilous waters of the Pacific Vortex — a fog-shrouded sea zone where dozens of ships have vanished without a trace. The latest victim is the awesome superb Starbuck, America’s deep-diving nuclear arsenal. Its loss poses an unthinkable threat to national defense. Pitt’s job is to find it, salvage it, before the sea explodes. In a furious race against time, Pitt’s mission swirls him into a battle with underwater assassins-and traps him in the arms of Summer Moran, the most stunningly exotic and dangerous toward disaster, Clive Cussler plummets his hero onto an ancient sunken island-the astonishing setting for the explosive climax of Pacific Vortex!

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In the past I’ve really enjoyed the Bond-esque adventures of Dirk Pitt, and having been away from his action packed crusades for many, many years, I decided to catch up from the beginning. A goal of reading all the Dirk Pitt works from beginning to end and fill in the gaps of books I’ve missed.

Pacific Vortex!’ was better and worse than many of the other books I have read…

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleBetter, because it really invoked a feeling of fear and anxiety around some of the undersea challenges Pitt faced, as well as the adrenalin filled awe at the scale and grandeur of the mysteries of the deep. I don’t think the other novels in this universe I’ve read quite captured that feeling as effectively.

Worse, because of all of the trappings that go along with a terminal bachelor ladies action man. So many archetypes which felt two dimensional and had me cringing. But I was expecting this. Dirk Pitt adventures are typically patriarchal, male-centric and reduce many interactions to machismo and objectification. It’s the same in the Bond franchise. The spoony and camp factor seem to come hand in hand in this genre.

The result was, that why I loved the adventure and marine elements, some of the stereotypes and interactions were hard to swallow. But you need to take it for what it is.

It was great to see the beginnings of a wonderful franchise. Clive Cussler writes with authority and conviction. He really knows his stuff when it comes to the marine environment – which, to be frank, is the main reason why I began reading his novels. That, and I crave a good adventure.

I know in later novels his character development and comedy are greatly improved, and female characters are painted with more than just an objective gaze or a damsel in distress. I think if I hadn’t already experienced Cussler’s later works I may have rated this lower, but have made an exception due to his legacy and the hours of wonder I’ve spent in his pages. Cussler’s writing is in part what spurred me into getting a Marine Biology degree in the first place.

So it’s only onward and upward from here. Can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings.

Overall feeling: machismo, but mad fun.

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – The Martian by Any Weir

Step aside MacGuyver, we have a new hero… and a new planet to conquer!

The Martian Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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I’d seen some high ratings for this title, and many of my friends were raving about it, so I grabbed a copy and read it over the weekend with no idea what the story was about other than an astronaut gets left behind on Mars. Plus with a movie due to be released, I wanted to get the book under my belt before ‘The Martian’ hit the cinemas.

The Martian Book Review Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleHoly crap! This book took be on an unexpected ride. Although written in a more serious tone, with science and technical facts intertwined with the plot, Mark Watney, our intrepid astronaut has a dry humour that had me cheering and laughing out loud. This book is a bit like nerd porn – Watney survives only because of his knowledge and being able to MacGuyver contraptions to increase his odds of survival. Truly impressive.

After a diet high in YA of recent months, ‘The Martian’ was a true delight – a welcome change in style and subject matter.

Mark is a true testament to keeping your head on straight in the face of adversity. His comedic timing is also on point – and that humours side of him is what keeps him alive just as much as his ingenuity. I loved the scattered facts and maths problems; it reminded me of grade school exams, like if Billy had 10 green apples and Norris had 16 red apples and Helen made apple sauce with half of each of Billy and Norris’ apples, what would it taste like? Yeah I know it makes no sense, and at first that’s what it’s like when we see the problems Watney faces. And then he comes up with a solution that totally makes sense. It’s like you’ve got the teachers edition textbook with all the answers in the back of the book.

The Martian Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Some may find the writing style a bit dry, with switching POV’s between Watney, the crew on the shuttle and those in Earth at NASA – and a lot of technical information. But I’m a big science geek and lurved it! This book has such a heavy realistic feel that it doesn’t feel like you are reading science fiction at all, but rather some historical text book.

The overall plot was predictable – it wouldn’t be a great book without the desirable outcome – but it’s all about the journey! And did that throw me in a tailspin. From one moment to the next I never knew what was going to happen. Especially when Watney’s circumstances are so dire. So, even with a witty but dry narrative, the pacing is anything but slow. I spent the weekend devouring this book whenever I had a spare moment. I’m sure it I hadn’t been so busy I would have plonked myself on the couch and not gotten up until I’d finished.

The Martian Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI also listened to the audiobook on a trip to New South Wales because I enjoyed the novel so much, and have to say it was outstanding. The narrator did a bang up job, and I’d highly recommend purchasing the audiobook, or novel. Let’s hope the movie blows me away just as much. I’m already excited knowing Mat Damon and Kristen Wiig are in the cast.

If you have any fascination on landing on the moon or mars or space travel – this is one for you! ‘The Martian’ is definitely in my top five reads for 2015.

Overall feeling: Amazeballs!

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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