4 out of 4 stars
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It's been two hundred years since Captain Henry Cato, and his crew discovered the island of Sumonajob and the gruesome events that took place subsequently. Sumonajob is now a famous island nation under British rule in the 1900s. However, there is now a clear political divide in the country. Some citizens want more exposure to the outside world, while others are against outside influence. The arrival of an American businessman, Jason Richards, and his assistant, Susan, makes matters worse. His reason for being in the island nation is to execute a massive construction project under the directive of President Sigmund Roulfe, the leader of the island nation.
But Richards represents foreign influence, and his reason for being in Sumonajob places a target on his back. His time in the island nation, however, brings him in contact with a bar owner, Luana; the president's daughter, Mimi; undercover CIA agent, Janet; local news reporter, Jeanie; and Mimi's closest friend, Chet. They do not all start as friends, but they are soon drawn together by their individual experiences. And soon, they find themselves fighting an unseen and deadly cult that will do anything to keep Sumonajob away from foreign influence. A cult with a history that goes back to the time when foreigners first found out about the island nation.
Pacific Paradise by Kurt Carlson was an exhilarating ride. There were enough talking points in this book that kept me reading until the end. The bulk of the plot was set in the 1900s. Still, I liked how the author started the book with a backstory from two hundred years prior. This helped to give more context to the story of Sumonajob in the 1900s. I also appreciated the backstories—they could also be considered subplots—he provided for each of the main characters: Jason, Janet, Mimi, Roulfe, Luana, Jeanie, and Chet. These helped me to understand each character's role better. My only worry here was that a few of these backstories occurred at unnatural points in the story, slightly interrupting the story's flow.
I especially enjoyed the friendships between Richards and Mimi, Chet and Mimi, and Luana and President Roulfe. These seemed to be the cornerstone relationships that served as the pivot for the main plot and subplots. I enjoyed the author's writing. It was beautifully descriptive, and I never struggled to understand what he was trying to say. No point in the book felt rushed or slow; the pacing of the story was just right. I thought there were too many supporting characters in the book. Thankfully though, they efficiently played their parts in the development of the story.
Pacific Paradise was essentially made up of two stories. The first was about Sumonajob when foreigners first arrived, and the second was about the island nation as a British territory fighting for independence. But Carlson decided to divide the book into about five sections. This felt unnecessary and didn't add anything to the story.
While this is a subjective matter, I didn't like that there were too many sex scenes and acts of violence in the book. At this point, the author's descriptive writing worked against my enjoyment of the book. The avalanche of graphic violence and sex scenes were almost too much for me to handle. However, considering the cultural nuances of Sumonajob, these scenes were shocking, but not surprising.
Pacific Paradise was professionally edited. It had over 300 pages, but I only found two grammatical issues. Consequently, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was a riveting story. While I was uncomfortable with the placing of the backstories, the graphic scenes of sex and violence, and the use of strong language, these were purely personal issues. It didn't feel right to take away a point for these reasons. I would recommend this book to people who love stories with a healthy infusion of politics, history, and adventure. If you don't have a strong stomach, however, many scenes in this book will upset you.
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