4 out of 4 stars
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There's a burning light in the distance. It is neither a lighthouse nor a rescue ship, but still, this flame in the middle of a fierce storm burns bright with hope and dread. Somewhere in the Gulf of Alaska, masked by rain and snow and shrouded by fog is a burning vessel in distress. The Settle Express is adrift at the mercy of the sea, but news of her abandonment reaches our unlikely protagonists, Larry, and Louise. The couple and their crew sail out on high hopes and their old tug boat, Warhorse, to salvage the boat in hopes of claiming enough money to save their business. But a simple salvage mission alone does not begin to encompass the full magnum of Adrift, for there are more personal tales to be told. Captain Steve and his men, sailors of the Settle Express, are lost at sea with little hope of rescue. As lost souls drift to here and fro, a series of events unfold on the mainland. Each person trying to do one thing above all else; survive. The author of the gripping novel Adrift, Charlie Sheldon, has succeeded in crafting a book with fierce and likable characters as well as thoughtful plots devices. As an experienced seaman himself, Sheldon provides a realistic perspective into the lives of sailors and the very real dangers they face. Still, the respect and admiration for the sea Sheldon possess' is as clear as day and it bleeds onto the paper like ink. It leaves Adrift with a grounded feel any reader can appreciate.
Firstly, Adrift possesses several noteworthy traits that add up to a compelling read. Traits that make it worthy, in my opinion, for its title as, "Book of the Month." Among them are obviously diverse characters such as Indigenous American main leads, Russians, etc. Though I'm not a member of any of the listed ethnicities/ nationalities, there seemed to be hardly any stereotypical characterization, if at all. They are instead portrayed respectfully, as well as their cultures, but are still fleshed out enough as stand-alone individuals. Not only that but their backstories intertwine with each other in a suspenseful way, it leaves the reader wondering when will these characters met and what will happen if they do. For instance, when the Settle Express is abandoned numerous lives are affected, so by creating multiple plotlines, we are given a glimpse on how everyone is coping with the catastrophe. To avoid confusion, however, the author cleverly dedicates each chapter to a different narrative. Occasionally the POV also switches from first to third but is nonetheless consistent. In addition, Adrift also introduces the haunting presence of survival in this tale of woe. I say haunting because in most stories about enduring nature the heroic aspects are hyped up to the nines. There are tales of pirates who mastered the sea and wildmen who can live of land with no effort, but not in Adrift. It provides an ugly, up close look to life and death and all in between. I especially like how survival takes on multiple faces in this story as well. There is the need to survive in the wild, that is a given, but there is also man vs man and man vs finical debt. In like manner, the combined usage of realism and suspense left me thoughtful. It is easy to grow attached to these characters, it is even more easy to understand their fear. I can only imagine what real-life events inspired the fiction ones, hopefully, none that I will ever face.
As for the Cons, there are hardly any or at least none that stood out to me. The grammar is well done, it's edited professionally, and written beautifully. I was simply engrossed. But, if I had to be picky, then I could only name one. I wish there was more effort into describing the physical looks of a character. Some characters were given very vague notes (ie eye color, hair, face shape) and then the brief opinion of another character. On one hand, this allows the reader to create the character in question by their own definition of attractiveness or unattractiveness with a handful of clues to guide them. It certainly leaves more to the imagination and leaves the reader with more time to focus on the plot. On the other, the reader is left with little blocks to build with and can't help wonder how did the author originally envisioned this character to look. Regardless, it is a small complaint and one that hardly makes an appearance and can be easily overlooked.
Lastly my personal thoughts, or rather, final praises. Adrift was exactly the kind of book I was looking forward to reading when I joined the review team. A fictional - survival story, Adrift carefully uses well times suspense to bring its reader's to the edge of their seats. I especially love how not only stressful situations are portrayed to draw wedges between teammates, but also how faith is put into question. There are brief religious/ spiritual debates present, so if that's not your thing be weary. This also goes for the faint of heart readers who shy away from blood and gore, though nothing is overly graphic there are implications and descriptions. Still, I believe this to be an appreciated story, it at times greatly reminded me of Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
In conclusion, I can rate Adrift an astounding 4 out of 4 star rating. It is a mature-themed novel that will leave readers addicted and thoughtful of what's discussed. I'd recommend the novel to adults who enjoy nature and underdog stories. Not much is left to say in the end, except to enjoy it on a rainy evening in your warmest pajamas.
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