Saturday, 13 October 2018

Distortion - Victor Dixen

Okay now. I want you to form two queues. The first - all of you who HAVEN’T read  Ascension, the first volume in the Phobos series.  And in the second queue - all of you who HAVE. I shall address queue number 1 first. So, you haven’t read Ascension? WHY THE HELL NOT? Now, please, go away and read it and then you can come back and read about Distortion. It’s for your own good, I promise you. 

And now to business. This second instalment of the Phobos series continues where the first book left off. And if my opening paragraph seemed a little flippant it is because I think you really do need to have read the first book to truly engage with the second. The characters defined in the first are developed in the second, developed very well I might add, but if I hadn’t read Ascension I might not appreciate all the nuances and they are worth appreciating.

Excellent translation, again, by Daniel Hahn from the original French, this YA series continues to entertain this OA. Our twelve ‘contestants’  continue their pioneering journey towards Mars in Cupido developing their relationships and also themselves, growing and maturing before our very eyes. They need to if they are to stay one step ahead of the Cruella Deville of the cosmos, Ms. Serena McBee. Something that did strike me was whether teens universally would speak, react and interact in the same manner the world over. Because I did feel sometimes that the exchanges were not always typical of the teens I know. Something may be lost in translation. And indeed in geographical location!

There’s plenty of tension, emotional and physical, and plenty of action. Disclosures aplenty-  some that shock, some that we may already have deduced but it all keeps the reader on their toes, just like our intrepid heroes who cannot risk the luxury of relaxation. 

The science is well covered, explanations supported  by a series of diagrams. I’m still not sure if I understand all of it but it comes across as plausible and convincing. Crucial in a Sci-fi story. 

It continues very much in the mould of The Hunger Games and Maze Runner series although this seems somehow ‘spacier’ than Ascension. I can see the huge appeal and potential it has to delight the YA readership. There’s a kind of subtle morality running through which I think is important when you’re aiming at a younger audience. And Mr. Dixen doesn’t forget us oldies who might be reading, with a few tongue in cheek lines. This for example when Serena McBee is questioned about why a certain character has done a certain thing -  ‘Only novelists need to worry about credible motivations for their characters!’. Had me chuckling anyway.

If you can engage your audience thoroughly  the concluding cliffhanger is a sure fire guarantee to whet a desire for the next volume. And I will look forward to it not least because I am a completist and I need to know how it all ends!! 

Thanks to Readers First for a copy of this book. 

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