Book Review – Eleanor

Standard

There are many different reasons to read a book. Most times I tend to read to think about something in a new or different way. To spark my creativity and challenge my accepted ideas.

EleanorThis book, Eleanor by Jason Gurley, is not that kind of book. Not that it doesn’t make you think. I had a lot of thoughts while I read this book. I thought about the similarities between it and two other books I’ve read. One was fairly recent – Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane, while the other I read when I was just a child – Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Both had a profound influence on me, but all three of these books didn’t so much make me think.

They made me feel.

When I first began reading Eleanor, I was struck by the pictures Mr. Gurley paints for his readers. Spending a little time in Oregon and on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, I could readily accept the fog-shrouded town and seaside he presented as real. He worked so hard to place his story in the real world that when the supernatural world opens up later in the book, it feels natural. It feels like an extension of the world Gurley has created and it feels better than the world in which his characters reside.

I’ve followed Jason’s journey of writing this book for the past year (although he’s been writing it for the past 13 years) and I can feel the passion he had for it in every word I encountered. I saw the care he put into it and the work he put in to make it just right.

How to describe this book? I’m not really sure. I literally finished less than five minutes after starting to write this review, so my thoughts are still swirling like the water in a tide pool off the shore of a small island near the beach in Oregon. I felt for the characters that Mr. Gurley painstakingly presented to the readers. How in just the first few pages, we were introduced to Hob, Eleanor and their daughter Agnes. I was getting settled in for a book about this Eleanor, until Gurley ripped the rug out from underneath me and I realized this was not really the titular character – she was still to be discovered.

Discovered is really a great word for this book. Eleanor discovers so much in her journeys throughout this book. You see the younger Eleanor taking care of her family as best she knows how, but then through other means, we see there are better ways she can take care of her family. She discovers who she is, who her parents really are, and her true purpose.

This needs to be discovered. I could call Jason Gurley the American Neil Gaiman and I don’t think many people would argue after reading this book. It is a phenomenal book and one I could not put down. Well done, Mr. Gurley.

Advertisements

Book Review – Binary Cycle: Skyward

Standard

I owe a lot to W.J. Davies. He may not even know it, but he was a huge inspiration when I first started writing last year. Of course, I’ve well-documented my reliance on Hugh Howey and his blog in the early part of 2013 and it was really Hugh’s story that encouraged me to get started with my career in self-publishing. But, it was a blog post by Howey about Davies in January 2013 that propelled me on the course I find myself now.

I had been writing my novel, Dead Sleep, for a couple weeks already and had made good progress when I saw Hugh tell about Davies’ WOOL fanfiction story, The Runner. Being a fan of WOOL, I grabbed the Kindle copy and devoured it. I determined pretty soon afterwards that when/if I finished my novel, a WOOL story would be the next thing I wrote as a tribute to Hugh Howey. I think Davies’ connection to my journey is clear from there, but then when I was actively writing The Veil, I got to know Davies on Twitter and found his existing knowledge of publishing and the burgeoning WOOL Universe to be a boon. He was generous and friendly when he could have blown me off as an unknown author.

(Full disclosure: both Davies and I have stories in the charity anthology, WOOL Gathering.)

WJDavies_Disruption_web-187x300But it isn’t just WOOL fanfiction that has contributed to Davies’ young writing career. His sci-fi series, Binary Cycle, recently wrapped up with a action-packed, killer ending in BC: Skyward.

I loved the first installment in Davies’ original series, named Binary Cycle: Disruption. Allow me to quote myself from my Amazon review of it:

When I was a child, I devoured Isaac Asimov’s books — especially his Robot and Foundation books, which he ended up combining near the end of his life. As I read WJ Davies’ Binary Cycle: Disruption, I found myself going back to those days in junior high and high school, lying on my bed and dreaming of a world different than our own, yet similar in many ways.
The world Davies has dreamed up – Taran – is on the brink of disaster. A colony of a dying Earth, it has been left to itself since its founding and planetary forces are threatening its very existence. But, that’s just the foundation for the story as Davies interweaves characters through various places on the planet as these disruptions are having different effects — biological, physical, political — and the characters are all wonderfully crafted to the delight of this reader.
I really found myself identifying with the character Jonathas as he navigated a disaster area in search of his girlfriend and the new-found technology recently implanted into his bloodstream.
The book ends on a doozy of a note and I am really looking forward to the next installment in this series from Davies.

That was July of last year. If there was anything that Davies series suffered from, it was time. He didn’t get Part 2, Revelations, published until early March. He learned his lesson, though, and recently released the conclusion, Skyward, to his series in late May.

BCS-187x300Revelations continued the stories of the main characters Davies set up in the first part, but Jonathas’ story was noticeably cut short. Not so in the third installment as Jonathas was arguably the main character and hero of the entire series by the time the end of the story came.

The four main characters — Jonathas, Cassidy, Skyia, and Reggie — are all brought together as their storylines converged in Skyward with all having a part to play in saving the planet Taran. Again, I really identified with Jonathas, but Davies did a great job developing all the characters so when all their commonalities were laid bare, the reader really feels connected and cares about the outcome of the planet. While the second part of the series is titled Revelations, we get a ton of new revelations in this book, especially early on as we try to put all the pieces in place in the journey to save the planet.

The action is taken to a new level and after the early revelations in the book, Davies pushes his characters physically and emotionally, so much that the reader is left panting by the end of the book. In the end, Davies wraps it all nicely, but leaves room for additional tales to be told from Taran, which I would definitely welcome. Binary Cycle proved that W.J. Davies can write outside of the silo and is someone to pay attention to in this new indie publishing world.