3 out of 4 stars
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As Professor Marty Zitonick and his research team come in for a landing around Mururoa Atoll, they discover a castaway and her signal fire beckoning to them from below. Quickly transitioning into rescue mode, Marty is surprised to find Jennifer Hero in extremely good health despite being stranded on the island for the last 4 months. She weaves a tale of strength, ingenuity, and surprising endurance. Little do these scientists know, Jennifer Hero is a Secret Society agent from the 30th Century.
30th Century Escape by Mark Kingston Levin follows Captain Jennifer Hero who, along with her crack team of Secret Society (SS) “naturals”, is launching a covert operation back in time to the 27th century. Their goal is to introduce a sense of morality in the “syndos” of that time period so as to save the human race before these amoral beings wipe out the human race. Captain Hero, however, decides last minute to not accompany her team to the 2600’s but rather jumps back to the 21st century instead. After arriving in modern times and being rescued by Professor Zitonick, Jennifer struggles to build her new life in this century. Following a claim of amnesia to explain her lack of a background, she has to consciously control the symbiotes in her blood giving her above average strength and health, dumb down her superior intellect due to 9000 years of additional human knowledge, and suppress her innate ability to read social situations.
Despite her challenges, Jennifer builds her life, gets accepted into a Doctoral program, performs incredibly in the fields of archaeology and dark energy physics, and develops some (very passionate) personal relationships with those around her. As she goes through all of these activities she is first shocked then struggles to understand an identity that all but falls into her lap. Perhaps there is more in this century that is familiar to her than originally thought.
30th Century Escape is a fun and thought-provoking read. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It is extremely interesting while reading this book to think about how our protagonist has to act in order to preserve her identity. More than once I found myself internalizing, “Hey, I never thought about that!” Around every corner Jennifer could fall into the trap of letting out her secrets. For example, 9000 more years of human corporate knowledge means that she is touted as a genius after taking her university entrance exams. Mark Kingston Levin writes very well and is an extremely detailed narrator. I loved the descriptions of the beautiful locations throughout the book. Between Mururoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, and even Canada, Dr. Levin’s writing expertly brought me to these locations in my mind. In the same vein, and what I liked the most about this book, is how either extensive research and/or extensive skills of the author translate into a rewarding experience by the reader. I assume that the author has been to these beautiful locations, as his descriptions are divine; I’m sure he has sailing / flight experience as the narrative is realistically detailed; and I know that the author has an extensive academic background, as the minutiae on the science was expertly based on solid principles of complicated physics.
Despite the praises above, there were a few things that irked me about this book. First, the author often uses French in the book as this was Jennifer’s first language and a language used in the island locations in the story. Unfortunately, some of the French actually written in the book was erroneous at times and of a poor quality grammatically. Although this may be of little consequence for the average reader, since I speak French, this ended up being distracting for me. Second, throughout the book (but primarily in the first half), the author has included some pictures to accompany the text. These pictures were rather cartoony and added very little to story itself. It confused me a little bit as these images gave a distinct YA or children’s book feel to it. I quickly realized that this was a mistake when I arrived at a picture of the protagonist topless on the Mururoa Atoll beach. Finally, and what I liked the least about the book, was how for a large portion of the book I really wasn’t sure where the book was going and what the point was. Once Jennifer was rescued and began living her life, there was no longer any globally apparent conflict tying the story to the overarching plot. This was eventually addressed later on in the book, however, and a logical conclusion was eventually attained – it simply seemed lost for a chunk of the book. To be clear, what was written was exciting and interesting nonetheless, it simply seemed to lose sight of the overarching scheme.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, loved its beautiful descriptions, and revelled in the thought provoking content. For that reason, I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. Between the French, the unnecessary illustrations, and the temporary loss of purpose, I am forced to deduct one measly star. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who like thought-provoking tales that expertly mix futuristic thinking with modern day life. I am obligated to mention that in the second half of the book there were significant descriptions and instances of sex and sexual acts (male-female, threesomes/foursomes, female-female). The author was very upfront about this content and therefore it is not taken into consideration in this review. As it is significant part of the book and if you are insulted / turned away by this type of activity in a book, this may not be for you.
30th Century: Escape
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