Thursday, 26 March 2015

SP Book Review: H.A.L.F

H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright

4 Stars

Verdict:
A typical alien experiment sci-fi novel.


H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.


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The Rating Breakdown

Enjoyment: 4  I enjoyed reading it.

Writing Style: 4 Only a few minor tweaks.

Plot: 4 Action packed. No twists or spins though. 

World & Concepts: 4 Solid but nothing overly original.

Characters: 4 Villain needs fleshing out. The rest are likable and individual.

Finish: 5 Didn’t even know it was self-published!

Strengths: Action sequences are good and plenty.

Weakness: Just doesn’t have that original or gripping spark.

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This is the perfect example of a self-published book because I genuinely had no idea - not even an inkling - that it wasn't traditionally published. Great cover, no obvious typos, and there were very few cases of awkward/confusing writing. What a cracking example!

I always love it when a character is different or acts unexpectedly, and Tex the half alien was definitely unusual. He used language differently, and tried to understand his actions in a logical way even when he acted irrationally. I find it interesting, and never felt it hindered the prose. If anything, it's what drew me in whenever he led the third person narration. 

The humans were equally good to follow, with Erika taking on the third person narration the second most. Ian’s good humour, mixed with a dash of self-preservation, possibly made him my favourite character. I didn’t feel too connected to Jack, but I enjoyed the light snippets of romance that helped me understand Erika further. I liked how Erika was strong but had issues to overcome.

Now for the villain. Commander Sturgis felt like a typical evil scientist to me, and a little too trigger happy on the ‘kill them’ command when a simple non-disclosure would suffice. The author tried to develop her a little further by adding in snippets about her father, but it didn’t help me understand her actions.

In places the prose felt bogged down with a lot of detail over the characters' thought processes. Several times I realised three of four paragraphs could be deleted in favour of a simple line. The exposition in-between the action basically got in the way. Luckily this is definitely an action packed novel.

Maybe most of the concepts have already been done a lot in sci-fi books, but it's still a read I'd recommend. I'm hoping the sequel will take the trilogy to an unexpected place – I’ll definitely keeping reading to find out.