3 out of 4 stars
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Russell Hoyt, a researcher for a timber company, goes missing with his crew while investigating a mysterious rainforest in Africa. His colleague and friend, Carver Hayden, is tasked with finding a tracker that can help find Hoyt and gather as much information about the forest as possible. Through mutual contacts, Carver recruits Zora de Rycken to aid him in this rescue mission. Zora’s military background, previous missions in Africa, and phenomenal linguistic abilities make her the perfect guide. Zora and Carver aren’t the only ones heading into this forbidden and foreboding forest, as the rumor of a rare black lion has attracted the attention of a multi-billionaire trophy hunter, Olegushka Levkov, and a few of his friends. Can Zora keep Carver safe as they search for Hoyt, surrounded by the dangers of the forest and their unsavory and unintentional travel companions?
I must admit, I am willing to try any book that boasts a strong female protagonist and an earth-friendly message. I am so glad that this book, The Sunken Forest by R. Barber Anderson, caught my eye! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this exciting adventure story, became attached to the characters, and genuinely hated the deplorable antagonists. I especially enjoyed the descriptive writing and the obvious research and first-hand experience that the author utilized to give this story a strong foundation based on reality.
My main criticism about the storyline is it seems to be a bit formulaic in following common tropes seen in action movies. Without giving anything away, the main protagonist of the story, Zora, is exceptional at everything that she does, including being better at navigating the landscape than the locals who inhabit it. Predictably, the only indigenous character, Ngiome, is coerced into being a guide, but does have significant character development and is a major component of the story, which is more than can be said for similar stories. The author also includes a note at the end of the book explaining his research in creating his indigenous characters, which is significantly more effort than I have seen from most other authors to obtain accuracy without being members of the community themselves.
Unfortunately, this book does not seem to have been professionally edited. Most of the errors are barely noticeable, such as a misplaced quotation mark or other punctuation mistakes. However, some errors interrupted the flow of the sentence and confused its meaning, such as using the word "tale" instead of "tail".
The exciting storyline and descriptive writing make this an excellent read, except for it relying on some common tropes and needing professional editing. All in all, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Adults who enjoy action books with strong female protagonists will love this one, but I cannot recommend it to younger audiences due to some of the content. Those who are sensitive to violence, torture, rape, substance abuse, and strong language, including derogatory slurs, should avoid this one.
The Sunken Forest
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