Chuck Showalter

Books

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Smashwords book reviews by Chuck Showalter

  • Paradox on April 23, 2012

    I really liked Paradox, by Ryan Strohman. The title itself implies it has something to do with time travel, but the book begins with some college students facing a lockdown on campus. As someone who lives in the Pittsburgh area, I think several thousands of Pitt students can totally relate. When the main character, Jon Smithfield, is suddenly accused of being part of the bombings on the campus, the book takes a wild turn. Characters are revealed to be far different from how they were originally portrayed, and the author uses clever twists to keep the plot moving. There are parts in the book where the author seems to mix science and science fiction, but he does so brilliantly by explaining the science and leaving the rest to the reader’s imagination. The idea of meta-materials being used to travel through time has been hypothesized by researchers (I had to look this up myself), and the inclusion of a fictional sub-atomic particle provides just enough mystery to make this believable. At first I thought the author could have spent a little more time uncovering and building up some of the supporting characters, namely Annie and Steve, but as the novel progressed, I realized that the author was making a very subtle point in leaving them somewhat vague. Jon’s future and even present for that matter are not written in stone, and thus the characters motives and backgrounds could constantly be changing. It’s a great concept for a time-travel novel, as most I’ve read get too involved in how actions directly affect the characters in other times. By not going into too much detail about these other characters, it convincingly proves the point that the author is trying to portray. I also like the idea of time being thought of as a wheel or ball with an infinite number of spokes coming out from it. It’s far different from the “timelines” we typically think of. It’s not the easiest idea to wrap your head around, but the author does a great job in explaining it. This author has created some very interesting concepts and characters in a great, action-packed book, and I look forward to reading more from him. I’ll be downloading his other novel ASAP!
  • Project Utopia on April 26, 2012

    Project Utopia, by Ryan Strohman, was a great book. I read it on my iPad, and I think it’s about the only thing I’ve done on it since I downloaded his novel. I think I might have liked Ryan’s other book, Paradox, just a little better, but this one had many of the same elements that made Paradox such a great book. I think you get the sense right from the beginning that Harry Werner’s character has a tremendous amount of backstory. It’s a little cliché that he’s in a psychiatric hospital with amnesia, and I thought a little of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, but Harry is definitely not a Jason Bourne, and the amnesia ties directly into the story. I love how the author uncovers bits and pieces of Harry’s past and character as it progresses. The overall plot of the novel, a Utopian society created through the use of nanotechnology, is a concept I’ve never read or heard of before, and I love how the author led the reader into this neat and terrifying concept. The use of nanotechnology seems a bit overused nowadays in my opinion, but the author delivered it with an impact. While the nanotechnology is pivotal to the story-line, the characters and action are what make this novel great. I love how Harry’s character transforms from a child-like patient to something more, and while I don’t want to give the plot away, it’s great that the author focuses on his intentions and ethics and morals rather than just his physical attributes. I think too many authors get stuck on describing the physical, and while that’s important, I feel it’s the abstract, the emotions and thoughts and feelings, that really create a great story. I also love how the book wraps up with a message of redemption and bettering oneself. You think the novel is so tightly wound in technology and action and thrilling suspense, but the author delivers at the end with meaningful wisdom that really makes you think about your own life. I love indie authors and reading works that haven’t gone through the big publishers, but if Ryan Strohman continues to write these types of stories, I think he may end up on hundreds of thousands of bookshelves before too long. Kudos to a great author!