Book Review #20

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I knew I had to make Book Review #20 special, and I think I picked a good book. I read it a while ago, and I was just waiting to review it.

If there is a kind of story I am certain we are all so eager to devour, it is that of survival. We are always excited to hear tales of men striving to stay alive in an isolated island, of friends stuck in a forest of cannibals, of sailors trapped at sea where they are forced to become cannibals, of unlikely allies in a town of living dead, and even of kids chucked in an arena where they are barbarically made to murder one another. We marvel at the things the main characters do just to keep going, and we sometimes put ourselves in their shoes, wondering if we will go the same path that they did.

So when I heard of Andy Weir’s The Martian for the first time—described by many as an interstellar survival story fronted by an astronaut Robinson Crusoe —I know it was just too good to pass up. I have to read it; after all, the string of existence stories that I treasure for their ability to quench my thirst for adventures is screaming for a new addition.

The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney who, after being mistakenly thought dead during a dust storm on Mars, is left when his crewmates are forced to evacuate the planet. He finds himself stranded on the Martian surface with (1) no way to signal Earth that he is alive, (2) food supplies that would run out years before a rescue mission reaches him should he be able to get a word out, (3) machinery that will probably get weathered by Mars’ unforgiving environment, and (4) possibilities to commit “human error” in his attempts to live. How long will he be able to sustain this fight when all odds are seemingly not in his favor?

Riveting, smart, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Martian is perhaps one of the best hard sci-fi tales that I have encountered in the past year. While it is teeming with technical details, Weir makes sure that readers who do not have much knowledge in space programs and modern science fiction in general would not be left behind. It charges along nicely at a gallop, making it an entertaining ride that would beg to be read in just one sitting.

Watney is perhaps the epitome of a narrator that is virtually impossible to dislike. Documenting his dogged journey to survive through a twenty-first-century style epistolary, he constantly pulls hope and strength from his resourcefulness and unlimited supply of gallows humor. Readers will find themselves laughing with and rooting for him, crunching their brows and ooh-ing at every problem solved, and face-palming whenever his efforts are met with inevitable setbacks. Through his rose-colored spectacles—or helmet faceplate, rather—he proves he has too steadfast a soul to be dampened by the Red Planet’s challenges.

If there is anything I came to almost not liking about this book, it is the change of point-of-view to show what NASA is doing on Earth to retrieve him (is that counted as a mini-spoiler?) and those handful of times on Mars when the readers are made to know something before Watney notices it. I understand that they are necessary. They are not bad per se, though there are times when the transitions are not seamless. But like bumps on a gratifying joy ride, it did not halter my enjoyment of the story.

Aside from Watney’s, another POV that I also loved is that focusing on his crewmates. The hard-knuckle science foundation of the whole novel gets its emotional punch on this side of outer space, where the Ares 3 crew proves they are a close-knit team through and through. They will do everything they can to get back to Mars and rescue Watney, even if it means having to cause a mutiny.

The moment I reached the last page, I immediately wanted to start it again. This is what I hoped every book I pick up will make me feel: a little bit exhausted from the life I lived with the protagonist while going on with his adventures, a little bit invigorated by the things I learned while reading, and all in all happy for having just read a very good book.

Five stars for the amazing experience. ★★★★★ (I’m on my laptop, I can’t add the book symbols)

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Interview with Scott Thompson

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Today, I would like to introduce you to Scott Thompson author of “Eight Days”.

Hi Scott, Thank You for agreeing to this interview

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

  •  I’m a storyteller, but writing has always been difficult for me. When I was a kid letters and words would swirl and move on the page. It took great concentration for me to focus and read, even though I loved stories. Eventually I worked through this, but school continued to be difficult for me. I now love words, and I worked hard to learn how to write so that I could tell the stories I wanted to tell. I love how shapes become letters that become words that combine and fuse to change lives and set the direction for the future.

 Where are you from?

  • I’m from Newnan, Georgia, some miles south of Atlanta. It’s a suburb of Atlanta now, but when I was growing up it was still a small Southern town full of secrets and a mythical twists.  As a teenager in this small town, I spent my days looking for trouble. It was wasted and it was fun.

 Tell us your latest News/Current Projects

  • I’m working on my next novel now. I don’t want to talk too much about it yet, but it continues to study the value of life.

 When/Why did you begin writing?

  • I have always created stories. When I was a kid, and had trouble with writing I drew. I was always drawing, and in those drawings, there were worlds and adventures — Stories. A few years ago, I wrote a book before my first novel that taught me how to remain focused on a writing project. I learned that discipline is needed to create a book. I’ll never publish that first book, but it did show me that I could write. Later I wrote Young Men Shall See, and I wrote it very quickly. Since then I have studied writing and improved my craft. I have to tell stories. I love a good story.

 Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

  • In Eight Days and my other stories, the characters are not based on anyone. They are made up of many people, but I can’t say whom exactly. Even if you do base a character off a real person, you have to let that character evolve into who it needs to be. If you keep a character in a story too close to a real person you won’t let that character become who it needs to be.

 In “Eight Days”, give us a little insight into Clive Kinsella’s character, (Without giving too much away).

  • Clive Kinsella was a good man. He did everything in life he was supposed to do, but at the end of his life, he wished he had done more for himself.

 What genre are your books?

  • I think Southern fiction, but some say family drama or even a bit paranormal. From an airplane view, they are literary fiction.

 In ten words or less, describe your writing style.

  • Non-pretentious

 Do you have any strange writing habits?

  • No, I don’t think so. Just like other writers, I go down to my writing dungeon, put on my purple robe, play my pipe organ for exactly 46 seconds, and then write.     

 Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, longhand, etc.?

  • I write on a computer. I type fast, so typing on a computer connects easily with my brain. Some say writing by hand on paper is the best way to write, but for me typing on a computer connects best.

 Do you think covers are important in the buying process?3d-eightdays-transparent_1024.png

  • Yes, I love a good cover. I love art, and I love when a cover is a piece of art on its own.

 Who is your ideal reader?

  • Someone who has experienced and survived pain and tragedy.

 How long on average does it take you to write a book?

  • I think about six months is a good guess. It’s the editing and publishing process that takes the most time.  

 Did you do any research for the book? What was that like?

  • Yes. I read what might be considered scholarly works on Heaven and the afterlife. I am Christian — even though this is not Christian fiction – so I focused on Christian beliefs of the afterlife. I read books on Heaven by authors like George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, and others like Dante Alighieri. I made a point to avoid fictional books about the afterlife and Heaven, and any of the so-called “return from Heaven” books that are popular these days. 

 How do you keep from resenting your duties and every human sleeping requirement when you have to stop writing to care of them?

  • Time management. If I write a little bit every day I can still complete projects. But I am busy.

 What makes a good story?

  • People need to be able to relate to the characters or learn from them.

 What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

  • I try to write something every day, even if it’s 100 words. A good writing day is 400 to 500 words. I hope to increase my word count as I grow as a writer.

 What do you think about the eBook revolution?

  • Some people like to read dozens of books, and eBooks are cheaper. Whatever makes one happy. My preference is paper, but I don’t mind eBooks. I read some books on my Kindle.  

 Music or silence

  • Sometimes music helps stir my creativity, but usually I write when it’s quite. I can write with some background noise too.

 Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

  • I appreciate the help people have offered in sharing Eight Days. The story was mine when I wrote it, but now it’s everyone’s to read and interpret, so in that way, I hope I have paid everyone back for their support.

 

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website: authorscottthompson.com/

Blog: authorscottthompson.com/thought

Facebook: facebook.com/scottthompsonauthor

Twitter: twitter.com/sthompsonauthor

Amazon author page: amazon.com/Scott-Thompson/e/B007RG8246

Goodreads: bit.ly/eightdaysgoodreads

 Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

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