Sunday, August 02, 2009

Offworld by Robin Parrish

Offworld by Robin Parrish
Copyright 2009
Bethany House - Futuristic/Sci-Fi Thriller
361 pages

What led you to pick up this book? I read the description of Offworld in the "coming soon" section at the Bethany House website and it sounded like my kind of read -- action-packed, futuristic adventure. Jim at Bethany House kindly sent me a copy. Just FYI, I'll be foisting this one on the youngster. I know he'll love it as much as I did.

Describe the plot without giving anything away. Before the end of their mission on Mars, the Ares crew lost contact with NASA and Commander Chris Burke had a near-death experience that has led to flashbacks and dangerous blackouts. Still unable to acquire contact when they arrive home, the crew crash-lands on Earth, only to find that there's nobody on the planet. No people, no animals, no bugs. What could possibly have happened to make everyone simply disappear? The answer apparently lies in Houston, where an incredibly bright beam of light is visible via satellite imagery.

As they set off for Houston, wending their way around the wrecked vehicles left behind, foraging for food, driving abandoned vehicles and facing surprising peril, they encounter a single human -- a young woman whose life "between the cracks" has made her a survivor.

Describe a favorite scene. I loved absolutely every scene in the book. So much happens in this book that it's like a ride on the fast train through fire, flood and explosions with people jumping on you while trying to pick up all the puzzle pieces that scattered when the train lurched while the dudes who are jumping you threaten to kill you if you try to put your freaking puzzle together. Gosh.

I will say, however, that I think my favorite part had to be the bit where the crew and Mae are sheltering in the Biloxi lighthouse because the lighthouse (my photo, at left) survived Katrina and I liked the idea of people using it as shelter. I wouldn't have sat on the balcony and dangled my legs like they did, though. Can you see the rust? Hard to imagine 4 or 5 people sitting on that balcony without creaking and crunching noises.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book? There were a couple of technical errors that surprised me and the reasoning for the disappearance of humanity is a little far-fetched, but such things didn't ruin the book for me. In fact, I found it was nearly impossible to stop to ponder anything while reading the book because it's such a roller-coaster ride. I would not recommend starting this book at night, unless you're in the mood to pull an all-nighter.

What did you think of the characters? I loved the characters. Each of them was flawed in some way and as the story progressed, the author slowly peeled away the layers and revealed their pasts -- how they became who they are, their secrets, what drove them to become successful. They were very human, not the glossy image of an astronaut that you see from watching TV, but people who have loved and lost, made mistakes and lived through intense pain. One is even a very, very lonely man in spite of his fame.

Anything else? Bethany House is known as a Christian publishing company, but there is next to nothing in this story to indicate that Offworld is "Christian" apart from some hints that there's a higher power. Chris occasionally prays for help, but he does so generically. He could be just asking the universe to give him a boost. Rather than a book directed at Christians, Offworld is simply a remarkably fresh look at a futuristic world and a tense, suspenseful adventure for anyone. It is clean -- no swearing, no sex. There's plenty of violence, though I think given the storyline it's unavoidable and it's not disgusting or gory. The ending is a little predictable but not in such a way as to ruin the book.

Recommended? For anyone and everyone. It's set in 2033, so while you could say it's a sci-fi and it is futuristic, it's not so far in the future that I think the usual anti-sci-fi crowd would be put off. I could be wrong about that.

4/5 - Excellent writing, unique storyline, tremendous action and suspense and a fantastic ending. I have a feeling I will not forget this book for a long time.

Other reviews:
Da Blog - love the comments in this one on the lack of preachiness
Should Be Reading - A differing viewpoint; MizB found the opening slow

And, now for something completely different - Sunny weather! Whoa! I'd forgotten what it felt like to have light streaming through the windows. I like!!! We had close lightning, yesterday. My husband was out running an errand so I thought maybe I should open the door for him. The lightning was hitting so near us, though, that the cat wailed and ran away to hide and I had to cover my ears. I closed the door. Huzzybuns got really, really wet.

Hard to believe - School starts in our area on Tuesday, August 4. Our school district is "transitioning to year-round schooling". I think they're crazy. It gets dangerously hot in Mississippi, so starting the year early means forcing kids who march in band and play outdoor games to practice outdoors during the hottest month of the year, when the UV radiation is also extreme. My opinion, but I think that's just evil. We insisted our son leave band after the end of his sophomore year because the band kids were forced to practice outdoors in temperatures up to 115 degrees.

Note on the sidebar - I've recently added a little blurb asking people who quote my reviews to ask permission. This doesn't mean I object to the usual bloggery stuff - quoting my thoughts along with yours (even if you disagree) in a blog review or linking up. I added that because I was perusing various places where I've been quoted, one day, and I discovered that I've been quoted several places totally out of context, making it appear as if I loved a book when I said something positive but actually wasn't too enamored of the book, in general.

This bugs me. I don't want people to zip off and buy a book on a false recommendation because someone pulled a sound bite out and misused it. However, I do go out of my way to find something positive to say about each and every book I read and that's apparently easy to abuse. I don't mind even a misquote if there's a link back to the original post to put a quote into context; I do mind the use of a very positive quote for a book I don't recommend without a link so that readers can see the entire review and get the full picture.

Was that two rants in a row? That's very unusual for me. I think I'll go exercise. If you've seen my sidebar, you know that God told me I was fat in a dream. I mean, really. If you're dreaming and God tells you you're fat, you have to take it seriously.

Happy camping!

Bookfool, thrilled to see the sun shining


  1. When we lived in Auburn, the school board proposed year round schools and the citizens opposed it so much, they had to back off. Instead they would start school a few days earlier each year. I looked the other day and they start on August 10, so they got their year round school by stealth, which is pretty stinky.

  2. Kathy,

    That's definitely stinky.

    I think eventually people will start to complain and it'll fall apart, here. The reasoning they used for year-round is that "summer school wasn't working". They did hold summer school, this year, but they only allowed kids who attended intersession -- which is specifically for those who are doing poorly on state tests, not to help those who are having difficulty in class. So, if a generally smart child (one who tests well) is flunking, he can't get extra help during intersession and he can't retake a class during summer school.

    It's all a tangled mess. Plus, from our perspective, an 8-week summer really eats into saving for college if you're a teenager.

  3. That stinks about the school system.

    The book sounds intriguing. I hope Will enjoys it too! :)

  4. Krista,

    At least it's our last year (unless somebody screws up). Then, on to the joy of college tuition! Wheee!

    I know he's going to love Offworld. Will likes fast-paced novels and this one has some twists that fall into his favorite area of interest . . . which I can't mention because that would be a spoiler.

  5. Offworld does sound exciting! I'll have to look for it. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Nancy.

    It sounds like you are enjoying the sunshine. :-) I always wish for a little bit of summer rain right about now. At least the temperatures have cooled off a tad. High nineties as opposed to triple digits is a little of a relief.

    Your school year is starting early! Many of the schools out our way are shifting back to the traditional school year. It may have something to do with the state's budget or something else. I'm really not sure.

    I need to get back into exercising now that my ankle is all healed. Thankfully God hasn't called me fat in my dream yet. Although, I did get lectured by a couple of angry bloggers in a dream recently about something they thought I should do that I was dragging my feet about. Not quite sure what it was though.

  6. The education system has so many flaws, but trying to correct them by a longer school year (longer by increasing increments) has not appeared to improve the situation.

    I love the sound of this book; I'm a science fiction junkie!

  7. Wendy,

    I really enjoyed Offworld. It was exhausting, though. Really, don't start it at night. LOL

    I'm usually wishing for rain, right about now, too. This has been such a weird summer, honestly. First too much rain, then a long dry spell, then too much rain. If it could just be sunny for 5 days and rain for 2, each week, that would be about right. :)

    I'm all for traditional schooling. The people who complained, early on, said it was ridiculous to air condition the school and keep buses running, year-round. That's a worthy concern, but I think the real deal is that they're doing it for all the wrong reasons. I just have a feeling that it will eventually fail, as all of their crazy plans have. They tend to jump on the latest trend, here.

    I didn't know you'd hurt your ankle! I'm glad it's better. Funny about the dream!! Better a couple of angry bloggers than an angry God!!

  8. Jenclair,

    My sentiments exactly. They need to work on fixing the real problems. The goal should be to give our kids a solid foundation and work toward a 100% graduation rate. Our graduation rate is somewhere around 66%. That is appalling.

    They're not actually lengthening the school year, just spreading it out and giving the kids two week intercessions -- eventually, there will be no summer break, at all, they say. It's really horrible because it seems like just as the kids are getting in the swing of things (at least, this is true of my son and several I've talked to), they have a break and they're actually disappointed at having to stay home. And, then just as they're starting to enjoy the break, they have to go back.

    Oh, I think you'll love this book. I love sci-fi, too. There's just not enough available, in my humble opinion.

  9. Hahahaha, I can't stop laughing over here about God telling you you're fat in a dream, lol. I'm sure the old man is just joking with you Nancy ;)

    O_o I need to go get Offworld now!! It sounds so darn good! You have to let me know what your son thinks of it!

    I have to disagree with you on the sunshine. Call me depressing, but I just LOVE the rain! Seriously, if I could have at least some rain every day with nice soft, rumbling thunder, I'd be a very happy man indeed. I think I'm opposite from most people...the rain electrifies me and just makes me happy. Especially sitting under the porch reading and listening to it hit the patio cover.

    Ok...enough about rain...I know what you mean about being quoted in an untruthful fashion. I've found some quotes from my reviews that do the same thing. I just scream at the computer "THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID!!" Only it is what I said, just taken out of context :p Smart idea to put that disclaimer up!

  10. This one just went on my wish list. It sounds fantastic!

    I know what you mean about the sun. It's been overcast and rainy here practically the entire summer... and they're already preparing us for a hard winter!


  11. Chris,

    He's not joking. This old bod needs some major overhaul! It was probably just my conscience speaking.

    Kiddo says he's not going to start Offworld till he's been in school for at least a week because he doesn't want to get hooked and then have to set it aside. Bummer. I really want to know what he thinks of it! You'll just have to grab a copy and read it so I can talk to you instead, I guess. :)

    I love the rain for the break in sunshine. It's just when we get a week or more of it that I get sick of it. And, the humidity that follows it pretty awful. If I sit on my porch when it rains, I get wet. It's not much use. LOL

    I know just how you feel. Being misquoted or quoted way out of context is awful. I don't mind being quoted, though, as long as the person quoting me links back to a full review to put my comment into context. Of course, there are print ads and book blurbs. I guess it means people think we're worth quoting, but if it's not done right it can be very upsetting. Obviously, you've experienced the same!


    It's great. I hope you do read it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    You've been overcast and rainy? I didn't realize that, although I do remember someone saying it had been cool and rainy somewhere in MI, a while back. Maybe that was you! LOL The word "cool" obviously doesn't happen, here, but we've had some nights in the 70s, which is unusual. Usually it "cools off" to the 80s at night. Not much help, that.

  12. I've seen some great reviews about this. I need to look into it.

    Our elementary school was on modified year round (started in early August, had a two week break in October and a two weeks spring break, in addition to Christmas break, and ended in early June). We then switched to traditional, which means they get out in early June, don't have the two week breaks and start in late August.

    My preference? The modified. I didn't love the 2 two week breaks, but I loved the shorter summer!!

  13. Holly,

    The two-week breaks and short summers are both disasters for us. My son is a night-owl, so just as he's getting used to the early mornings, he gets a break and goes back to what comes naturally to him - late nights, waking up around 11am. Then, he has to start getting up early, again, and it takes him at least a week or two to adjust. The summers are awful because he's a lifeguard and he's trying to pile up money for college.

    Fortunately, this is our last year, so it won't be a problem for long.

  14. LOL @ God telling you that you are Fat, in a dream!

    The books sounds good, I have not read any futuristic novels at all.
    I need to correct that.

    The sidebar thing is a good idea, sorry to hear about the wrong link-ups.

  15. Veens,

    Maybe it's just that God has a sense of humor, poking fun at an innocent bookfool. LOL

    Really? You haven't read anything futuristic? Oh, Veens, you must amend that. I love books that are set in the future. Offworld's a good starting point. It's action-packed, so it's a quick read and you can get a feel as to whether or not futuristic novels interest you.

    Thanks. I just happened to find out I'd been quoted out of context by accident. I don't mind being quoted - it's just that I don't want to mislead anyone.

  16. First things first - Offworld sounds like a fabulous read! You know me and post-apocalyptic books. This one's definitely got potential.

    Kiddo's a senior this year?! When did that happen??!! Guess I've known you longer than I though, eh?

    I think your storms came north to my house. We just got hammered with a huge thunderstorm. Poor Annie tried her best to crawl under our bed. Good thing I woke up with her--our power went out briefly and our alarm clocks are all messed up. At least I won't have to water the yard today. It was beginning to get a bit dry. Summer has arrived. We were in the mid-90s yesterday.

    Very irritating about the blurb/quote thing. Gosh, I hope I wasn't one of the offenders! I'll be sure to check with you before I quote you in a review. I wonder if anyone's been using my reviews...

  17. Les,

    I'm not certain, but I think you'd like Offworld. It's so different from the typical post-apocalyptic novel. Really, you have no idea what happened to the people till near the end.

    Yep, Kiddo's a senior. Hard to believe, isn't it? I guess we've known each other a while. I was certainly stunned to see how old Shaylyn has gotten!

    We're back to hot weather, too. But, those weren't our storms. Ours went east. Blame Colorado. :)

    It wasn't bloggers that misquoted me -- at least two authors took words out of context to use in advertising their books. And, I didn't care for the use of a single word that was used in a print ad, especially since I had a much more descriptive and accurate sound bite, but anyway . . . not a blogger issue, but some bloggers were chatting about warnings in the sidebar and their assumption was that copyright warnings were directed at other bloggers. Sigh. I thought I had no choice but to exlain -- NOT a blogger issue; it's a problem with people misusing quotes to publicize a book. I just don't want anyone to assume I loved a book that I didn't love and/or would not recommend.

  18. Oh, oh, oh, oh! Want to read!!!

  19. Twinkletoes,

    LOL! It's great fun. :)

  20. Boy, you would think they'd ask permission! Shame on them!!

    Now I'm wondering if I should put a notice in my sidebar...

  21. Les,

    I guess it means I'm all popular and stuff (blush). I don't think the warning does much of anything, but I'm leaving mine there - just to try to get people to play nice. Most folks do a good job of pulling out sound bites, though.

  22. I love the rain too but OTOH, we don't get much of it.

    School in August? That's crazy. We've got some schools starting end of August now. Summer school barely squeaked by the budget this year.

    Good thing to have a disclaimer!

  23. Carrie,

    I don't suppose you do get much rain. Do you head north when you need a cloud fix?

    Yes, school in August. August 4. Ridiculous. When we first put a child in school, the schedule was traditional - Labor Day to Memorial Day. Summer was a lengthy, fire ants crawling up your legs and biting you while you sit on the hill by the pool ordeal, but we loved it.

    I probably won't need a disclaimer, soon. I've been saying, "No thank you. Fully booked. Not accepting, thanks." Soon, I'll be back to the stacks of elderly books, which is great. Nobody wants to quote you about the older titles, just the new releases or soon-to-be releases.

  24. I've read reviews of this book on several other sites as well and have added it to my list of books to pick up and read. Your review has further solidified my decision to go forward with purchase :)

  25. Michelle,

    Very cool, thanks for telling me I helped sway you. :) I hope you love Offworld! I thought it was a great escapist read.

  26. That's pretty interesting to me that a Christian publisher put out a book that isn't explicitly Christian, but just a good clean read. I really like that concept! I think Christian fiction has suffered from too many "didactic" books... designed to teach a message instead of tell a great story. Love that idea! And it sounds like a good read too!

  27. I'm going to borrow this one from you. I just thought you'd like to know. :)

  28. Samantha,

    You're second in line.


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