I should probably start this review with a disclaimer: I didn’t get past chapter eight. I had a sudden realisation I was wasting precious minutes of my life. Therefore I acknowledge that if I had persevered, Journey to Where may well have been one of the best books I ever read. Having said that, I’m a great believer that a story should hook you in within the first few chapters; if it doesn’t, then either the author isn’t very good at their job or this isn’t the book for you. And I very much doubt this will be remembered as a science fiction masterpiece. With that out of the way then…
Occasionally you buy a book on the back of a great premise and a couple of positive reviews. This process is hit and miss; sometimes you find a hidden gem, other times it turns out to be a big disappointment. Unfortunately, Journey to Where falls into the latter camp for me.
At the beginning of the book the narrator wants us to believe this is a true story. In my opinion, if you’re going to have wonky science, you probably shouldn’t start with that particular premise. I don’t claim to be any sort of scientist, but even with my layman’s understanding of physics I knew that the science was on dodgy ground. I know it’s science fiction, and I know you have to suspend your disbelief somewhat. But a story should adhere to its own logic. It’s very difficult to get lost in the story when you’re marvelling at how ridiculous it all sounds. Also, revealing that most, if not all, of the main characters make it back in one piece right from the start takes away any sense of peril.
Previous reviews I’ve read talk about how the characters seem realistic. Well, they don’t. There’s an old, cliched professor type. There’s two very unprofessional scientists who have some sort of beef with each other because reasons. One of them is a cad, the other one a straight-laced nerd. There are three (or was it two? In hindsight it’s hard to remember because they all blended together) females with no discernible characteristics, except one is French. She sometimes says words and phrases (which she could easily say in English) in French. Oui, how original!
The story moves forward at light speed, and within just a few short chapters the characters have conducted their fateful experiment. They proceed to wake up from a three-day sleep. Their first instinct isn’t to find water because of an immense thirst, or wonder why they’ve soiled themselves. No, they’re all a bit peckish, so they head to the canteen. They then proceed to wander outside to find that they have been thrust into another dimension, seemingly ruled by evolved dinosaurs. There is no slowing down to wallow in this amazing revelation or take in any of the details – except for a tree that somehow “doesn’t look primordial”, whatever a primordial tree looks like – as they are quickly rounded up and taken away by some hastily-described and frankly boring “Saurs”.
Don’t expect to get any sense of the characters’ feelings or thought processes either, as the story hurtles along. And they make idiotic decisions on the hoof. Like immediately straying from the relative safety of a man-made building to go and explore a jungle full of enormous, razor-toothed predators. I don’t care how strong your sense of scientific curiosity is, any sane person’s first priority is survival. Exploration comes later if you’re lucky enough to live that long, and wandering into the unknown with absolutely no survival skills is a good way to commit suicide.
As you can imagine, this ridiculousness goes on.
In summary then, I found Journey to Where to be waste of a good concept. A hastily written, poorly thought out story based on ropy science, with paper-thin characters, forced dialogue and no sense of peril whatsoever.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 2357 KB
- Print Length: 268 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1948142325
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Third Street Press; 1 edition (4 July 2019)
- Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07TWYR1YR
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #149,494 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)