POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: nature

Book Review: Vostok by Steve Alten

Author: Steve Alten
Title: Vostok
Genre: Science-Fiction
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Rebel Press
Number of Pages: 416
Narrator: Zachary Wallace
Quality Rating: 71.12

Vostok by Steve Alten

What’s It About?

Zach is a marine biologist trying to fly under the radar and quietly regain some of the academic flair that he’s lost since publishing his memoir. The book, called The Loch, was about his discovery and eventual slaying of the legendary Lochness monster. Despite proving the existence of a creature once deemed a myth, Zach had lost many on his team–and the experience made him deathly afraid of water.

Now, Zach is being approached with another mission of exploration. This time, he is being asked to join a team of researchers to explore an underground lake in Antarctica–never before seen by human eyes. The leader of the team has reason to believe that some small life forms could have survived and adapted to the environment over the thousands of years that Lake Vostok has been undisturbed. Despite his reservations, Zach’s curiosity gets the best of him and he agrees to join the team.

As the team settles in near Lake Vostok, they begin to take dives in a submersible. To their surprise, they encounter a giant thirty foot eel swimming through the lake. Then, the surprise quickly turns to shock when they realize that the eel is prey being hunted by something much bigger. As Zach struggles to research these new creatures and survive while doing it, he discovers there’s more to the mission than what he was initially told.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the sort of fast-paced science-fiction that centers around the theme of “Man Vs Nature,” you might enjoy this book. It’s a lot like the work of Michael Chrichton, but less scientifically technical in nature. The story moves fast–with little introspection and several plot twists. If this sounds interesting to you, you might want to give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, FacebookGoodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: The Eloquent Page

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Steve Alten: This book is the sequel to The Loch, published in 2005. Steve Alten has also published several other science-fiction series, including Meg (1997) and Domain (2001).


Book Review: The Tusk that Did the Damage by Tania James

Author: Tania James
Title: The Tusk that Did the Damage
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Alfred Knopf (Random House)
Number of Pages: 221
Narrators: Manu, Emma, and the Gravedigger (third person limited)
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C+, Average; of the first 35 reviews, the average reader rating was 78.29%.

The Tusk that Did the Damage by Tania James

What’s It About?

A young elephant witnesses the brutal killing of its mother and becomes a local legend among the villagers in the Indian rainforest. Dubbed “The Gravedigger,” the elephant grows into a wild beast racing through villages and leaving people trampled to death in the aftermath.

Manu is a young farmer whose brother has served time in prison for poaching. Through his eyes, we catch a glimpse of the mixed feelings the villagers have toward the wild elephants who raid their villages, destroy their crops, and threaten their lives. Moreover, we get a sense of the distrust they feel toward the elephants’ advocates, the conservation wing of the government that seems to be somewhat in the pocket of the logging industry.

Meanwhile, Emma is a young college student who has come to India to film the exploits of an acclaimed wildlife veterinarian and elephant rescuer. As she gets to know the veterinarian and his work with the wildlife conservation group, she gets caught up in the moral complexities of wildlife poaching and protection. As she develops personal feelings for the veterinarian, her objectivity is put to the test and she must decide between multiple loyalties.

As the story draws to a close, the story of these three characters converge and the motivations of all are revealed–leaving a stew of moral uncertainty that highlights a pressing social issue in the developing world of India.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy stories that raise complex moral and social issues, where there are groups with opposing incentives in place of good guys and bad guys, you’ll love this book. The various perspectives–the animal, the man, and the outsider–are captured masterfully by the narrative tone chosen by the author for those characters. The story moves slowly in parts, with descriptive imagery and poetic reflection taking up much of the narrative. In other places, dialogue shapes the narrative. There is a bit of mystery built around how the stories of each narrator will come together, but this novel is for the most part a literary work highlighting the “man vs nature” theme. If that sounds interesting to you, I would give it a read.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: New York Times, Washington Post, Denver Post, San Francisco Gate

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Tania James: Aerogrammes (2012), Atlas of Unknowns (2010)