John Mitchell

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Smashwords book reviews by John Mitchell

  • Uprising on Nov. 23, 2010

    It's free - I love sci-fi, from Heinlen to Philip Dick, but found the themes in Haven more akin to Orwell. In fact almost identical to those Orwell explored over half a century ago with some modern touches. Think 1984 meets Escape from New York. That's not really a reason not to read this - Kemppainen's written a good book with plenty of substance - just no subtlety. And perhaps because I enjoyed Orwell the first time around I found this allegory a little heavy handed. This is one of those books that doesn't fall squarely into the sci-fi category - in fact there are very few sci-fi elements and those that are there have no real basis in science. Instead they exist to underpin a social commentary on the evils of a Utopian society. Haven is trapped by the very things that keep it protected and flourishing. It's a construct, a mish mash of elements and you'll have to suspend logic and reason if your going to believe in Haven's universe. Fortunately, for the most part, Kemppainen's engaging style keeps you from questioning the how or why too closely. What was good? Plenty - the action sequences are excellent and I'm guessing Kemppainen is American because there's lots of guns and exotic weapons with a never ending supply of bullets - oh they threaten to run out but they never quite do. The body count is suitably high - Hollywood take notice. Most of the lead characters are well written if a little one dimensional, the Russian is very Russian and the drug dealer is, naturally enough, evil to the core and a mysoginist to boot. I just wish Kemppainen had dared to let his characters dream of bigger things at times, but I'm sure he was going for that claustrophopic feel - it keeps you reading wanting to see the characters break out of their myopic mold. Unfortunately only one does; a beautifully written epiphany for one of Haven's finest - perhaps the most human element in the book. This character grows and matures as social veneers are stripped away by circumstance to reveal an underlying humanity. Unlike others I didn't mind the ending. It was poetic and quick. Three stars but Kemppainen is going into the charts with a bullet next to his name. Oh - did I mention it's free!