Fantasist & Futurist
- Nov 23, 2002
Lee Child meets Tom Clancy in this near-future thriller
So I had a few minutes to kill and picked this up just to see what it was like. And - I know it's a cliche - but it grabbed me immediately and wouldn't let me go.
The story is simple enough - the setting is 2024, and a state-of-the-art cruise liner suddenly finds itself lost in the Caribbean and everything starts to look very unfamiliar...
Thus begins a whole string of problems - which, surprisingly, the crew do their best to address professionally and work on, and never act like idiots just to make someone else look like a hero.
There is a marine veteran on board who becomes part of the story, though not so much as I might have expected. And kudos for Kern giving a war-scarred soldier very real physical injuries and making them part of his story.
There are a couple of nice twists and turns, and although room is left for a sequel, this book wraps up nicely.
I've enjoyed Ralph Kern's previous science fiction novels, but in this book we can really see how quickly his writing has matured and become truly polished. The narrative is smooth and fast-paced, and there's not an ounce of fat anywhere.
At times - especially with the Marine veteran - I was reminded of Lee Child's writing. However, much of the narrative is more reminiscent of Tom Clancy, with his seamless technical references, grand game plan, and ever increasing stakes.
It was especially pleasing that Kern avoided easy cliches, and didn't grasp for easy solutions.
All in all a superb book, written to a very high standard, with sympathetic characters, an increasingly complex yet believable plot, and one of the best near-future thrillers I've read in a long while.