2 Stars: “Europa” by J. A. Sanderlin

2 Stars: “Europa” by J. A. Sanderlin

From Amazon.com:

Jonas Black lives a peaceful life in the Europa mining colony and has spent the last two years building Manta–a submarine with an onboard artificial intelligence that soon becomes one of his closest friends. When Jonas embarks on a journey to explore the planetary ocean of Jupiter’s moon Europa, he does not expect to discover the secret beginnings of life on the planet and place himself on the edge of a battle for his very life. Deep in the trenches of Europa’s ocean Jonas discovers an abandoned undersea science facility, and although the magnificent ship he salvages from it is even better than the sunken treasures of old, the mystery lurking within this facility is chilling.

Once surfaced, Jonas must quickly discover what he is made of and reconcile the collapse of his near religious belief in science and his sudden position within the sights of an assassin’s gun. When he learns of the brutal and bloody coup that has transpired in his absence, Jonas must venture into the abyss and help his friends and family take back the colony from the hands of ruthless mercenaries before it’s too late. Jonas, together with an old mentor, and his two best friends finds that there are still people who will fight for their freedom against those who would enslave the people of their colony.

Through faith, cunning and simple good luck, they just might manage to overthrow their oppressors and return peace to Europa. In a beautifully woven tale of betrayal, love, tragedy and redemption, author J.A. Sanderlin fights an interplanetary war for Europa, and the freedom of the people who live there.

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I wrote a much longer, detailed review of this book last week, but when I removed it from my bookshelf on GoodReads, the review was deleted, and cannot apparently be recovered. So here’s a condensed version of that review.

The premise of this book is interesting, at least to someone who’s been into space exploration since 2001: A Space Odyssey and2010: Odyssey Two‘s “ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.”

A undersea mining colony on Jupiter’s moon is taken over by a mercenary group bent on accomplishing a secret mission, with only one young boy free to resist them. How could that not be interesting? Undersea mining (super-dangerous), mercenaries, hostages, etc etc… all a recipe for success.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. I had to struggle to give this book a 2-star review, because I really thought it only merited the one. Characters that I didn’t care at all about, even when they died. Surprise additions that are only introduced ten pages from the end, plotlines left hanging throughout the book and barely touched on… and that just scratches the surface of this book.

Here’s just a few examples:

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“…the storage locker was half-empty but well-stocked.”

“…he yelled quietly to Sarah.”

How about the scene lifted – with only very minor tweaking – straight from Titanic‘s closing moments? And poorly lifted, at that? I wanted to throw the book across the room.
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While I was soldiering my way through this book (I paid $15 for it, after all), I showed it to my editor to get her take on it. She read the first paragraph of the Preface – which was the bottom half of the first page… yes, a whole half-page for one paragraph – and her response was… well, she was somewhat less than congratulatory. FAR less.

I know from personal experience how hard it is to write a novel. Not just in terms of the actual writing, but in the self-doubt and recrimination, the constant questioning, the long hours spent at the keyboard. I applaud anyone who takes on that challenge, and especially those who finish it.

That said, Sanderlin’s work here is in need of MAJOR revision. Whole sections of the book need to be wiped and started over. Sentence structure, PLOT structure, tone and utilization of basic writing are all severely lacking. I would find it hard to believe that this book ever saw the desk of an editor, and it really needs it.

Save yourself the $20, $10 in Kindle. One last thing – $20? Really? For not even 400 pages, in paperback? The price on this needs to be adjusted significantly downward, especially for the Kindle version.

Actually, the whole thing needs to be pulled and rewritten from the ground up. Good premise, very poor execution.

3 Comments

  1. Rachel October 16, 2011 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Red sent me. http://www.RedTash.com

  2. E.T. February 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    who drew the cover?

    • Grey Gecko Press February 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      I have no idea. And I’m still too traumatized from reading the book itself to bother looking it up. -J. Kristopher

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