Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction

Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.

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From the cover:

 

The planet Bersch is in big trouble. Not only is it ruled by a psychotic emperor, but it's also about to be destroyed by somebody's nuclear garbage. Now it's up to Bip Plunkerton- failed psyentist and reluctant adventurer- to leave his isolated community and warn civilisation of its impending doom. Unfortunately, in a world populated with angry krackens, hungry yetis and unhelpful seagulls, saving the day is nowhere near as easy as you'd first imagine...

 

The Last Volunteer is the first of three books in the Doomsayer Journeys series.

 

It’s easy to see the influence of Terry Pratchett in this book. THE LAST VOLUNTEER is brilliant in its simplicity and subtle humor, and is reminiscent of Pratchett’s Discword novels.

 

            Wetherell eases the reader into the comedy like a hot bath, giving it the perfect balance of funny and sciency mumbo-whatsit. It’s sci-fi with a touch of magic, or psyence as it’s called in the novel, making the sci-fi bits palatable to those like me, who find the mere mention of sci-fi akin to really awful calculus homework. And it’s obvious the author is completely at home in the world he’s created. There’s no over-explanation, and the machinations of the different societies he portrays make sense.

 

            Another draw from Pratchett’s influence is the omniscient point-of-view. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not usually a fan of this as it takes the reader out of the characters’ heads and into a kind of cloud-mind, which makes it difficult to get attached to them. However, Wetherell’s narrative voice is so distinct it becomes a character in and of itself, complete with witty commentary and chewy nuggets of information to gnaw on while the story plays out. As for the characters themselves, all are memorable, regardless of their screen time. I have my favorites, one of which appears in only two scenes.

 

            The only thing I found fault in was that it took reading a third of the book to realize one of the plotlines occurred nearly a thousand years in the past and one was in present day. Once I made the connection, I had to go back and read several scenes to orient myself in time and place, which distracted from the narrative. But, once that was dealt with, it was much easier to appreciate the parallels in the two plot-lines because their links became clear. The story took on a defined shape and I took special joy in guessing at the outcome. There also seemed to be a lot of fainting, but I’d chalk that up to bad air. They are on a foreign planet, after all.

 

            Guessing at the end, it seems, was fruitless, because the book ends on a cliffhanger.  But it’s just juicy enough to lure me into getting the next in the series, and then, the third.

 

            Steven Wetherell is a comedic talent. (Don’t tell him I said that. It’ll go to his head.) 

Book Review: The Last Volunteer

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