Saturday, July 30, 2011

Impact Book Review

Author: Douglas Preston. Release date: 2010. Publisher:  Forge Books. ISBN: 9780765317680.
Annotation:  A cast of characters have vastly separate lives that converge following a mysterious meteor strike in Maine that may not be a meteor at all.  
Personal thoughts:  This is a very enjoyable book that would work well as an adult-teen crossover. It does contain a fair amount of cussing, but nothing gratuitous or anything beyond how normal people would react in the situations in the book. Preston does a good job of combining the science-fiction and thriller genres. An excellent recommendation for older teens ready to move on from young adult sci-fi.
Plot summary: Ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford is asked by the government to undertake a mission to the jungles of Cambodia to discover the truth about a mine that seems to be producing radioactive gem stones. Twenty-year-old college dropout Abby Straw and her friend Jackie look for a mysterious meteorite that struck an island off the coast of their small hometown in Maine. Scientist Mark Corso receives a classified hard drive stolen from the National Propulsion Facility from his former professor and mentor who was killed in an alleged home invasion. All of these events seem to be random and not connected but, in fact, all point to a dangerous threat from space that threatens the Earth, solar system, and universe. Can the mystery surrounding the mine, meteor and hard drive be solved in time to save the human race from extinction?
Review:  This sci-fi/thriller novel from author Douglas Preston packs a powerful punch with an interesting plot, compelling characters, and enough action to keep the pages turning at a rapid pace. Each of the different storylines is intriguing in its own right, and when the characters begin to converge and things become clearer, the reader is in for a treat. Preston does a great job of explaining the various scientific aspects of the plot, ensuring that nothing is lost on readers who might not be familiar with astronomy. There is also quite a bit of marine lingo that is illustrated effectively as well. Although the novel does contain some adult themes and language, Impact makes an excellent adult/teen crossover, providing enough action to engage teens and adults alike. Overall, an enjoyable novel that is difficult to put down.
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Reading level: Grade 10+

Similar titles: The Codex and Blasphemy by Douglas Preston, Contact by Carl Sagan.   
Themes:  Meteors, astronomy, Mars, government conspiracy, Maine, father-daughter relationships, Cambodia, Khmer Rouge.
Awards/Reviews:  Positive review from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, National Public Radio, New York Times bestselling authors Brad Thor, Tess Gerritsen, Whitley Strieber, Lee Child, Sandra Brown and William Martin.  
Series Information: Character Wyman Ford also appeared in Blasphemy (2008) by Douglas Preston.     

Discussion Questions:

- Did you learn anything about astronomy after reading this book?

- Do you think the events in this novel could ever happen? Why or why not?

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