on Sep. 1, 2011 :
In the interests of full disclosure first let me say that I know Chris personally. When he told me that he'd written a book I was very excited for him, it's a huge undertaking and I admire anyone that can get it done.
However, I was a little wary because the story he described was very different to what I would normally chose for myself.
As a result it took me a little while to get started on the book and boy did I feel like an idiot for having waited! 'Aquatic Grunge' tells a great story, every page has its reward and Chris does a great job of weaving together the three main story lines.
One of the touches that I really enjoyed is that although there are three story lines, they are not all give equal space, there isn't any padding going on here. It's quite clear which is the main story. A secondary story is told in a slightly different format and the point at which the reader realizes it's connection with the main narrative is very rewarding. The third story is very touching, it feels out of place when first presented but its protagonist undergoes a transformation that has her fitting in with the rest of the cast quite nicely at the end.
I was very surprised by this how much I enjoyed this book, read it in a single day, I suggest you try it too!
(reviewed 46 days after purchase)
on Aug. 15, 2011 :
My first thoughts were ‘not my kinda book.’ However, I am glad I persevered and continued reading because this trilogy of stories completely captured my interest.
Kelvin’s story is very blokey, but I suppose to be out there scraping the ocean floor for sea cucumber is a very blokey thing to do.
I was intrigued with the gentle story of the refugee family.
The third story, a fantasy story about mermaids and mermen, left me wondering whether this was just drug-induced hallucination.
In the last couple of pages all is revealed and the whole thing dovetailed together beautifully leaving me wanting more.
The language was confronting. Was sex all these men ever thought about? It was an eye opener for me.
Chris Johnstone’s ability to paint a picture in simple everyday language is a gift.
“He was a short, wide sort of bloke.”
I immediately pictured just what he means, and I love that description. The story is sprinkled with such gems.
He was able to transport me to the Coral Sea, trawling for sea cucumber. I could smell the salt air.
I loved the book and look forward to Chris Johnstone’s next effort.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Aug. 14, 2011 :
In Aquatic Grunge, Chris Johnstone achieves a feat of literary impossibility. He sends you off on a journey into the Coral Sea with a boat-load of the most unlikeable morons, misfits and malingerers you have ever come across in your life, and yet somehow gets you to follow them right to the very exciting climax.
He does this by two methods. Firstly, by employing an engaging, colourful and easy-to-read writing style that rips the story along at a rapid-fire pace. And secondly, introducing two additional, completely different storylines which, when interleaved with the caustic, toxic, effing-and-blinding misadventures of his main crew, stops the reader from jumping overboard and taking his or her chances with the sharks.
How bad is this sneaky, selfish and self-serving mob? They are mostly residents of a Cairns back-packers. Say no more. You can’t even trust the main character, Kelvin, with your stubbies in the community fridge. He’ll slurp them down, behind your back, without batting an eyelid.
Kelvin and company take on the risky business of diving for sea cucumbers hundreds of nautical miles out to sea on a boat under the command of an obnoxious, grasping skipper. Despite some success, the journey is fraught with conflict and the death toll mounts. A key to these sequences is the author’s obvious knowledge and research into an industry that has had little written about it over the years. Suddenly throw in a second story-line that is highly appropriate in these days of the refugee debate and bring up a third, more esoteric, tale from deep and you can’t put the book down. It’s a tribute to the author’s skills that he believably pulls these threads together in the last couple of pages. It’s good. Damn good. There has to be a sequel.
Oh, all right, maybe Kelvin and Co aren’t all that bad. Perhaps some of their more egregious habits remind this reviewer too much of his own younger days…
(reviewed 40 days after purchase)
on Aug. 9, 2011 :
Great mix of real-characters & familiar places you can practically hear and smell, with a splash of fantasy thrown in for good measure yand fantasy.....my only gripe, it left me hanging, looking out for the follow-up :)
(reviewed 50 days after purchase)
on July 31, 2011 :
Funny, raw & unpredictable.... this is book is a great ride, check it out!!!
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)
on June 21, 2011 :
Bloody awesome read! Thrilling, witty ride that throws twists and turns at you that blow your mind! Highly recommend this book to all!
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)