Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Review: Ark by Phil Penhallow

By Phil Penhallow
Publisher: BookBaby
Published: June 16, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:

An unstoppable extinction level event (ELE) approaches the Earth. This impending disaster emanates from within our own solar system, yet to be formally identified by astronomers, is the vast planet named Ark. The 3400 year orbital path of this colossal Earth-like celestial body maintains catastrophic potential which is capable of destroying human life as we know it. 
For a privileged few, preparations have been under way for many years to save their own lives, the rest of us will perish. In a race against time to save as many as possible humans and alien races work both for and against each other, as a complex web of deceit and mistrust unfolds, to save or “use” as many humans as they can. 

Centring on a variety of interconnected characters the book paints an intricate and personal picture of each, driven to great lengths, with their frantic actions demonstrating the challenging and dire state of Earth. Two such characters are those of Geoff and Spike, standing at 7 foot tall, green skinned, yet human looking, these Eridanian’s are equipped with telepathic capability and an understanding of incredibly advanced technology. Sent to a deep underground base in a normal exchange program they carry out undercover work, however while there they discover the true nature of the base. It is a vile breeding ground where humans are grown from embryos previously extracted from Terran mothers without their knowledge. Parents are pre-selected for high IQ, impeccable health records and a stable socio-political background, creating a new race of super humans who will inherit the earth after ELE. 

As the tension rises and natural disasters increasingly announce the impending doom, an unlikely hero emerges, whose survival is crucial for the future of mankind. Brian, must swiftly learn that society as he knows it is all a lie. As a washed up, divorced, ex-navy businessman he is oblivious to the fact that he is destined for an important role on Ark and has been since birth. He arrives at the same base as Geoff, not entirely by chance having been “chipped and tracked”, like all Terran' selected for transfer, since birth. He must put aside all that he has learned and prepare for a new future, but first he must secure the future of those he loves. 

It is upon Ark that other sub-plot characters are developed, two of which are Zac and Mia, a husband and wife couple originating from the planet Ark. Mia is responsible for helping to build and nurture the new cities as a planet warden and teacher looking after the new species on Ark. Zac, as a commander in the Arkan navy is essential to the entire transfer process for which the planet is preparing. However during an intervention from the Draconian/Rigellians (D/R) a large fighter fur ball ensues with individual dogfights. The enemy craft are much stronger than normal and Zac is badly wounded as his fighter crashes on Earth. Temporarily stranded he is vital in the interwoven web being created and will ultimately save Brian’s girlfriend Mary in a brutal encounter with the terrible Terran twins Vince and Boris. 

Mary’s encounter is the culmination of an intense struggle of a desperate mother to find her teenage daughter. Deciding to go and get her daughter Louise herself Mary intends to travel during the day and not break a state curfew at night. However a TV interview broadcast with two scientists debating the event and the dramatic subsequent presidential address changes everything. With the help from a compassionate woman named Lily, Mary sets out to break the curfew and finish the journey at night, a decision that nearly costs her life. Kidnapped by evil twins and held in a stable, her terrible fate is only averted by Zac’s brutal intervention. Following a fervid and moving battle to reach them in time Brian Louise and Mary are eventually reunited on the Transport orbiting the Earth ready for the journey to Ark, however this is not the end of their troubles… 

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My Thoughts:

Ark had quite an interesting premise to it in that an object is hurtling towards earth. It’s a planet that has a 3400 year cycle whose trajectory has been slightly changed and is now creating an ELE – extinction level event on earth. But that’s just one of the plot lines. Another major plotline is that for thousands of years there have been aliens inhabiting out earth, and humankind has known about it and worked to keep it from general knowledge. What do these various alien groups want with earth and earthlings? Some species want our world for its resources, some see Terrans (us) as insignificant as we see ants, some see US as the resource.

Ark is a very complex story with several plotlines running through it. I think the author did a good job of completing each of the plotlines. There was plenty of action and the pace of the story was good. I liked the twists and turns and the discoveries that Brian (the main character) made about himself which were revealed by Geoff regarding his past. I also think that Mary taught Geoff and Spike something too.

I found that parts of this book read like a report – all facts. This made some of the novel a bit dry. My interest in the novel diminished in these parts. I found too that a few of the minor characters were flat and their speech/conversations were stilted and awkward. I believe that this was because there was simply so much going on in this complicated novel that the author may have left these things as they were to prevent the book from attaining an unwieldy length.

The main characters however, were interesting and well-developed. I liked that the Geoff and Spike had the ability to communicate telepathically with humans who had the biological implant placed in them.

I found it particularly frightening what horrible things humans will let other humans go through and what that says about us as people. Regardless of where we are raised, I hope we never lose our compassion for those less fortunate than we are.

I liked the message of hope that the novel gives. Hope that there is life out there in the universe besides us. Hope that that life is friendly. Hope that somehow some Terrans will survive an extinction level event (ELE).

I enjoyed reading Ark. I think what made it most enjoyable was the complicated plotlines that the author so skillfully wove together. I would recommend this book to science fiction/apocalyptic genre readers. I gave this book 4 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Hello, from a very early age I was fascinated by the possibility of life elsewhere and the almost incomprehensible size of the universe.  Among the most significant books I read were those by Erich von Däniken. This led to reading books on ancient history and the possibility of previous visitations to Earth by other civilizations. With thirty five years of research on the topic I decided the time was right to write a book on the subject. However, I wanted to do something different than just write about all the data as this has been done before. I felt it would be a good idea to write the sort of book that I wanted to read as a Science Fiction story instead. The result is ARK. It is my intention to write a trilogy of books with this being the first in the series called the Arkan People of Earth (APE). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. I have a PhD in Chemistry and lecture in Maths and Chemistry in the South West of England where I live with my lovely wife and two beautiful daughters.

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