Quick thoughts: A really fun and lighthearted read in the style of the old Saturday morning matinee.
One of my favourite elements of book blogging has to be the chance encounters I’ve had with self-published authors (or at least their blogs). Following the tenuous thread of online interactions has brought me more than once to some author’s website, where one thing leads to another and I soon find myself the proud owner of their self-published book. The reason this remains a positive experience in my blogging career, I think, is because I haven’t yet been let down. Dan Harris’s Ascension Point leaves that streak unbroken for me, and it’s certainly worth taking a look for yourself.
You can find the jacket blurb summary on Dan Harris’s blog (here), but the general idea is that four very disparate branches of the human race are forced to unite against an unknown foe that threatens their collective extinction. Put in the hands of a different author, that’s the type of epic story that could be stretched into a very readable six thousand page opus. Harris manages to squeeze it all into a slim volume just shy of three hundred pages.
That disparity between scope and size has some definite pros and cons. Rocketing through the plot at such breakneck speed makes it difficult to have any significant character development. World building also becomes superficial by necessity, and historical back stories are alluded to rather than explained. By skimming over the potentially leaden details, though, the action is allowed to take centre stage. And quite honestly, it’s pretty hard to care about the minutiae when you’re continually trying to catch your breath.
Considering the potential pitfalls of hitting the fast-forward button on the storytelling, I was thoroughly impressed with how much Harris was able to actually cram into the pages. There was really no superfluous material; all the fat has been trimmed, and every page was essential to the plot. The writing was also well-rounded, with a good balance between humour, action and sentimentality. More to the point, it was possessed of a quality which was most welcome to this picky reader. Style and grammar can unfortunately seem like secondary considerations in a surprising number of traditionally published sci-fi novels, so it was rather satisfying to dig into a self-published book that didn’t break the narrative flow with poor grammar or improperly used words.
Ascension Point moves along at a crackling pace right to the last page, with plenty of believable action and intrigue. I was entertained, which is sometimes the highest compliment I can pay a book. I have no qualms in recommending this novel for pure entertainment value, and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the next instalment in what appears to be an inevitable series.
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out my interview with the author.
See what some other bloggers have said:
Becoming Author: “Not only did Ascension Point bring out genuine laughter in me, but the plot, though epic in nature, was handled in a light and refreshing way…. Ascension Point is a must read.”