Book Review: Atlantic Island By Fredric Shernoff

ImageI have to admit I haven’t read many Y.A. titles of late, the last being Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, but when this arrived in my eReader the (Jason Gurley designed) cover got my attention (sorry I do sometimes judge a book by it’s cover, or at least bump it up on my reading list!)

Atlantic Island begins with a group of teenagers on a break in Atlantic City who shortly after arriving are caught up in an unknown catastrophe which leaves a huge chunk of the city mysteriously transported as an island to a seemingly unknown location. Once the survivors come to terms with their situation, politicians take control, tasked not only with finding out what happened but planning for the future.

However the internal struggle within their leadership is allowing a maniacal force to push for control, forcing the group, led by seventeen year old Theo Essex to fight not only for their own survival but for the freedom of every survivor left.

The story is fast-paced and thankfully Shernoff wastes no time allowing the characters to be thrust into their impossible situation before developing them, and it’s interesting to see how they initially adapt to their circumstances, given their age. To some extent we don’t really need to know what they were like before The Event (as the incident is referred to) as they now have a clean slate and just need to concentrate on survival but as in most disaster situations, not everyone makes the best use of this opportunity.

Once the power struggle escalates on the island, Theo finds himself the unwilling leader of his group and much of the story is focused on both his struggle to accept his role and his determination to embrace it once he does accept it.

There are definite coming-of-age elements to the story but instead of a bunch of whiny Glee teenagers we get a pretty grounded bunch making the best of their situation (and not singing about it every five minutes!) and as the events unfold to the riveting conclusion we see the bonds of their initial friendship strain through some pretty scary events and some canny plot twists nicely topped off with a sweet cliffhanger leaving the reader both shocked and curious for more.

Overall it’s a gripping story and while it’s easy to spot the influences it defiantly stands on it’s own two feet as an action-packed and entertaining addition to the Y.A. genre.

Now available on Amazon Kindle
Eamon Ambrose

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Book Review: Nighthawks At The Mission By Forbes West

Mythos Press/GMTA Publishing

What if you were a disillusioned teenager given the option to get away from it all? What if getting away from it all involved moving to another planet?  Meet Sarah Orange. She’s moving to The Oberon – a new world accessible not by space flight, but by a mysterious portal in the South Pacific. New opportunities abound and a new life awaits off-world.

Sounds like fun? Not quite.

Things are not what they seem at The Oberon and Sarah realises quickly that she has made a mistake. It’s a wondrous yet dangerous place where the indigenous population are mistreated, where gangs roam abandoned areas looking for valuable salvage and where seemingly everyone has an agenda.

Things start to go wrong pretty quickly for Sarah and she finds herself pulled into the dark underbelly of this alien world with life-changing consequences.

It’s an interestingly written tale, initially daunting for the reader by being written in the second person (I’m a 42 year old man it’s pretty hard to imagine myself as a teenage girl!) but it quickly becomes obvious why West has opted for this style. It reminds me of one of those Fighting Fantasy books that were popular back in the 80’s, except with all the options taken away. This mirrors Sarah’s out-of-control journey up to the point where she makes a conscious decision to regain control of what’s happening to her and it’s at this point her character really starts to become interesting, even though she’s been corrupted somewhat along the way.

The writing is sharp and funny oozing with pop culture references and sci-fi shenaniganism. Shades of Hunter S. Thompson flirt effortlessly with undertones of Lewis Carroll, while squeezing in a closing time drunken tango with Tom Waits.

West’s World (pardon the pun) is well-crafted and does it’s best to be practical while embracing the more supernatural elements of the alien world, it’s population and the means to travel there. Sometimes it’s an uneasy marriage between the two, with the supernatural element providing a quick fix or an easy way out of some seemingly impossible situations but in most cases it works. Rather than being some Avatar-like fantasy planet The Oberon is a bleak, dangerous and mysterious model of inhospitality and it’s inhabitants while tolerating the human settlers, clearly despise them.

This book won’t be to everyone’s taste but that’s a good thing. West playfully pokes a cheeky satirical finger in the eye of recent Young Adult fiction by showing what would be the more realistic outcome of a teenager finding themselves put in this situation and by portraying a deeply flawed and selfish character who rather than being a clean cut hero, makes some terrible decisions, trusts some pretty shady characters while doing her best to dig herself out of the monumentally large hole she has dug for herself. It’s a tricky but ultimately enjoyable read and a welcome break from the sci-fi norm.

Buy on Amazon

UK / Ireland – amazon.co.uk

Book Review: 100 Ghosts by Doogie Horner (Quirk Books)

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Once again Quirk Books knocks it out of the park with this beautiful book from the supremely talented Doogie Horner. Doogie is responsible for some of Quirk’s best book cover designs
and 100  Ghosts is no exception.
An hilarious collection of variations on the iconic bedsheet ghost pictures we all know and love we get to see what that ghost would look like when they’re a pirate, or Scottish, or Marilyn Monroe, among 97 others.

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A beautifully designed hardcover with a wonderfully simple layout and colour scheme this tome of spectral shenanigans will be loved by all ages and will be on top 10 Halloween book lists for many years to come, including mine (coming soon!).