4 out of 4 stars
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Jake Evans is just an average American who wanted to go on a vacation. He finally saved up enough money and his business was set up just the right way that he could let himself roam around Europe for a month. Unfortunately, someone has other plans; the plane and all the passengers, except Jake, blows up on the runway.
Flight Grounded by Joe Jarvis begins with Jake Evans waking up in a haze on the international flight he is supposed to be taking. He quickly realizes that he must have fallen asleep before take-off since they aren’t even off the ground yet. A few more moments of observation shows that he wasn’t the only one asleep, in fact, every single passenger on the plane is still unconscious! Flight attendants are installing IV’s and helmets onto the patients when they notice he is awake. The flight attendants and the rest of the crew try to subdue Jake but he manages to escape out the emergency exit, hop the airport fence, and continue running. All of a sudden, there is an explosion. Not long after, the news reports come in, “All passengers and crew on board are assumed dead, except for the man police say carried out the attack: Jake Evans.”
This book is a short, fun read that tries to keep you guessing throughout. This quick paced novella follows Jake and his brother as they attempt to flee the aftermath of the explosion and figure out why the authorities are trying to pin this atrocity on him. I really enjoyed this book as it had just enough action to maintain interest, just enough twists to keep you guessing, and a creative plot that allows you to question what you perceive as reality. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but try to pinpoint its genre by comparing it with other works. It had that “dystopian short story” feel to it like Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron or 2BR02B, it had the constant action of any crime thriller, it had the “trapped” feeling from every non-fiction I’ve read on North Korea, and it had that “can this actually be the truth” feel from any good conspiracy theory. What I liked most about this book is how, given an open mind, the conspiracies presented in this book could actually be real and no one would be the wiser! Joe Jarvis has created an interesting world in a very short book, which has the potential for further expansion.
There are two minor details that I didn’t enjoy about the book. First, the length of the book was very short. Considering that I enjoyed the story, this isn’t that big of a deal, but I believe that Jarvis has the potential for an excellent full-blown novel within this story. The opportunity for character expansion, side-plots from additional points of view, and expansion upon the world he created is readily apparent. Finally, what I disliked the most may seem in contrast with what was stated in the previous paragraph, but I think they complement each other. Whereas the story is “believable” as a conspiracy theory, the magic is only maintained if you are reading the book within the United States. As the conspiracy in the story breaks down as you go beyond the borders of the U.S., as a reader from Canada, the intended magic of this book is unfortunately lost.
Even though I wouldn’t place this book in the list of the best books I have ever read, I have no issues whatsoever in rating this book 4 out of 4 stars. When I place this book within its genre and length categories, it easily merits its 4 stars, as it kept me enthralled the entire time. If you are looking for a fun thriller that is easily read within a couple of hours or an afternoon, I would highly recommend this book. If conspiracy theories and/or short stories are not your cup of tea, this book is likely not for you.
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