A DRM-free space exploration adventure
Mature-Content Rating: PG-13 (mild language and brief sexual content)
Kids often have very active imaginations. As adults we reach for dreams that are potentially attainable, but kids don’t care how realistic their dreams are. Adults will dream of being screenplay writers, but kids will dream of being dinosaurs. Adults will dream of being astronauts or maybe one day meeting Captain Kirk, kids will dream of being spaceships and visiting distant planets. Whatever stage of life you are in, that dream can become a reality. Simon Goodson takes on a wild ride through space where we get to experience what it is like to be a spaceship.
Okay, so this isn’t quite accurate, but the premise is close enough. Wanderer’s Escape is about a spaceship named The Wanderer and it escapes! Imagine that! Not only does the wanderer escape, but Jess and some of his slave friends go along for the ride. Soon they are caught in a world much bigger than they could have imagined while confined in that slave camp, and Jess not only learns what it’s like to captain a ship, but to be one with the ship. Need more explanation? Read the book.
With a book about a spaceship connection with the protagonist, the relationship must be good. Fortunately, Goodson know what he is doing when it comes to the relationship between Jess and The Wanderer. Jess’s mind is connected with the spaceship in a neat and intriguing way. At the beginning it almost feels like Jess is the ship’s computer. You know in all that sci-fi media when character ask the computer for information? Jess doesn’t have to do this, because his unique connection with the ship just feeds him the information he is thinking about. No more using words or anything. Who does that in the future! We all have a telepathic connection, right? As the book progresses, the ship begins to form a character of its own and the reader learns that it has things it won’t do and even desires. The reason to read this book is because of the strange and wondrous mental connection between ship and captain.
Not too soon after Jess and his crew escape enslavement, things start happening that at first threw me off, but end up working well into the characters and plot. Without spoiling it, I will simply say that throughout the book you will encounter a number of interesting plot twists which are executed beautifully. Once the plot picks up it does a fairly decent job of directly the reader where intended making for a mostly believable and somewhat engaging space travel book.
Despite having a great concept and an okay plot full of fun twists, the book fails in quite a number of area. It starts out really rough, but eventually gets better. By a third of the way through I was almost ready to set it aside. The characters were flat and unbelievable, doing seemingly ridiculous things without any real forethought or warning. Most of the characters just break out into crying fits for no reason, keeping the reader disconnected from the emotional intentions of the scene. Often characters will just go along with something to progress the plot and they seem to care about each other way too much for a couple of strangers who happened to be enslaved together for a time.
If you can get through the rough first 80 pages or so, the book gets better. The over-trusting protagonist is revealed, exposing a character flaw that is leant on like a crutch for the rest of the book. (Is this the author’s clever way of realizing his protagonist is unbelievable and using that to further the story, or he just waving his hands a little bit too much. I will leave that for you to decide.) If it wasn’t for the first third of the book, I probably would have rated this 4 stars because I enjoyed it quite a bit after almost giving up on it…
There is a little bit of the classic tell-instead-of-show problem, but it only happens a few times and can be mostly excused. Some of this is because the book remains strictly from Jess’s perspective so certain characters have to tell Jess what they did so that the reader is informed instead a POV switch hindering the flow. Though I enjoyed the lack of POV muddiness that many books suffer from, Wanderer’s Escape suffered from some of the issues that go hand-in-hand with POV rigidity. It was also interesting to me that there is not much description in the book at all. This seemed more odd to me because of the POV choice.
Does every good concept have to have a flaw? It seems like whenever a book has a great concept, it is executed well mostly… but not all of the time. Thought the ship’s connection with Jess is great, and the ship itself is quite amazing, there are a few times where Goodson waves his hands to get out of a tight corner. As the characters learn more about the Wanderer their new-found knowledge seems to plug right into what they need way too often. Jess wonders if there is a way to do x and because of his “connection” with the ship, it automatically fills in the hole with a solution based on a previously unknown ability that the Wanderer has.
At the end of the day, this book was okay. The characters get more believable as the story progressed, and by the time I reached the climax, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. If you like a good space-exploration story with a few plot twists and can get past the rough beginning, this book is thoroughly enjoyable.
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