Review: Rising Tide
Ben Gold is in serious trouble. After the events in FALLING SKY, he now finds himself imprisoned on a ship captained by a man named Malik who would like to see Ben dead. Fortunately, Ben has the brilliant Miranda, who negotiates for Ben’s life by offering her medical skills in a post-apocalyptic world where such a resource is in short supply. The question is: standoffs don’t last forever, so how will they escape?
Ben has spent his life as a scavenger in a world where only the clever and strong survive, which means Ben has talents of his own. So he negotiates for his life in exchange for scrounging up ship parts Malik needs to keep his boat afloat. But Malik has Miranda, which doesn’t give Ben much leverage.
I had a hard time reading this book–and not because it’s a bad book, this book was pretty gripping. No, it’s because the tension was so high I had to stop occasionally and take a few deep breaths before diving back in. The story is thrown at us from the beginning, and despite a slow middle and skipping boring parts, the novel moves at a good clip.
Kajan Khanna has created a world in collapse, where a zombie-like virus causes people to go ‘feral’ and become cannibals. Ben is a scavenger who used to captain his own airship, but loses it all in the events in FALLING SKY. Now in RISING TIDE everything he risked to help Miranda and protect an island where a community lives in safety may be wasted by events out of Ben’s control.
Ben has lived a life solely focused on his own survival and self-interest. As a result he’s made himself a lot of enemies. But all of that changed when he met Miranda. The story is told mostly from Ben’s PoV and I have to say that I salute Khanna and his engaging characterization. I read this book pretty closely so I could analyze what this guy did to make Ben’s character feel like a real, breathing man. I’m not saying that I would probably like the guy in real life, but that’s what made Khanna’s writing noteworthy. Even though Ben is a total tool, I couldn’t help but like him and completely understand his motivations and behavior. Is it perfect characterization? No, but I still enjoyed the ride.
Miranda has a few chapters from her PoV, and it’s interesting, but Ben’s voice is more compelling. The secondary characters, and even the villain Malik, aren’t simply stock characters. They matter to the story, and even the ones who only appear for a short time I have a feeling we’ll see later in the series.
Miranda and a group of scientists believe they’ve discovered a way to test for the virus as well as a vaccine. I can’t say much for the science, but it’s been a while since the virus was first released and I’d think there wouldn’t be much left to scrounge; and that they’d learn how to make some things that can’t be scrounged. So I have a few issues with the world and some of the conveniences for the story’s sake… But what do I know? The only other issue would be that the plot moves forward so quickly that it feels like there’s so much story and characterization potential that was waylaid for the sake forward movement. As a result the story feels shorter than it could have been, but I rather like a quick read occasionally between all the longer stuff I’m often sent.
This mashup of steampunk, horror, and post-apocalypse doesn’t really fit any specific category, which makes me hope for the possibilities of future installments.
- Recommended Age: 16+
- Language: A few
- Violence: A fair amount of death with blood
- Sex: Yes, with some detail