Book Review: Takeoff

Takeoff Book cover

Kind of weird, huh?

After having taken weeks to get to anything done, no thanks the situation I was that I mentioned in the last post, much of which crops up around the same time every year, I kind of expect that people would think I am in active or not as passionate about blogging, as I have mainly only made a post of things I preordered.

However, that was mainly just efforts that I could do myself, to ensure that I could keep checking things out, and things are still kind of iffy, as to if I really can increase frequency again, but it is still best to stay on top of things.

Last month, I pursued through the books Amazon was offering for free at that time and I decided to grab one of them to check it out, and it is now time to check it out.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Takeoff by Joseph Reid.

Seth Walker is an Air Marshal who has experienced some devastating blows to his life and one still haunts him, though he thinks things are fine, but after a certain incident, he returns to the service with a responsibility outside of keeping the skies safe.

However, even though his first job, escorting a teen idol cross country and making sure they are safely turned back over to the FBI, seems simple enough, he finds out that things are not so simple after all and must uncover what is going on, while doubting the people who supposed to his country safe.

While Amazon’s monthly free titles are not always going to be that great, just like many of the free titles over on Smashwords are not really that great, one can never be sure, unless they really check things out.

And after reading this, I must say that I kind of liked it.

From the moment that I started reading the first few pages, I found myself so engrossed that I did not want stop reading it for any reason.

One of the most important things in any work of fiction, regardless of medium and genre, is how everything begins, because the audience wants to be taken to another world for just a short amount of time, and that can only be done if the work can suck a person in quickly.

Throughout all of the time I spent reading in my life, whether it be books like this, manga, or visual novels, I have seen the many different ways stories start, from ways that worked out so well that I was hooked from the beginning, which people might believe happens to me quite often, due to how many titles seem to get this praise from me, to titles where I my intrigue was only captured when I a third or more of the way through the book, and those kinds of books tend to rank pretty low in my book, even if they manage to be better than okay, just like they would be by any other reader out there.

Here, however, Joseph Reid seemed to capture my attention quite well, by the way he had his words flow and even do an excellent job of allowing me to immediately see exactly what was going on, by giving me enough detail to draw the images in my head, which is a must in a prose work, whereas comics and manga only need to create the illusion of movement in the artwork to really bring things to life.

If he had not done all of this from the very beginning, and just expected me to get excited because of all the action going on at the beginning, like Kazuma Kamachi did back in the 15th book of A Certain Magical Index, as the text in bold featured next to the official summary on Amazon’s product page seems to emphasize, I would have been mad, because, unlike popular belief, a bunch of action is not going to capture the attention of every man where I live, or even the world, especially if the action is not exciting.

Fortunately, Joseph did not completely rely on the presence of action or the suggestion that something was going to happen and realized that he needed some more, even though it certainly did have the kind of start that one would expect to find in an action flick.

Hopefully, Joseph’s future work will be able to start this one just as well as this one did, because he has shown some potential to be good, but I am also aware of the possibility that he could been known for only one good book, so I am not too sure if I would want to invest any more into his work, though it is a lot more likely than I would give John Grisham’s books the time of day.

I also liked was how the characters themselves seemed to be interesting.

One of the things that really bugs me about many of the books published today, whether they are from where I live or the UK, the only other country that seems to have people with big enough names that they could sell anything with their name on it across the globe, as most of the big name writers from other countries, like Gaston Leroux and Hans Christian Anderson, are already dead, is that the characters are not there for any other purpose than to tell the story and then we are given an epilogue with those same characters that had absolutely nothing to make want to follow them or see what they are up to, whereas Lawrence and Holo from Spice & Wolf seemed to make things fun until their journey came to an end.

When it comes to series, readers want to have both interesting characters and adventures that will keep them coming back for, and if either one is not present, readers will eventually stop caring about the creator’s work, thereby hurting the creator than fighting piracy in the wrong manner, as the creator or, in this case, the writer would not be showing the reader that they really did put their blood, sweat, and tears into the work.

While I would not say that Joseph excels quite as much at this as Weston Kincade, and this is certainly to be expected from the first installment of a series, there seemed to be something in each of Joseph’s characters that not only made them feel like real and believable people, but people that I could very well want to see again in a future work.

If I had to say why this was, other than bouts of believable moments of irrationality and that Joseph seemed to really explore his characters, which I have no doubt that Joseph took the time to do, it is because he also knew how to end the story properly.

If Joseph Reid had continued anything further than he did, he would have broken the illusion that his characters have anything to them, and it would have made me less interested in the possibility of checking out anything else from him.

Thankfully, that did not happen, and that makes me feel like giving Joseph Reid a nice round of applause.

Hopefully, he can keep this up in his future work, as I would like to see him succeed as writer, but he, like many other writers before him, will eventually reach his peak, so I am ready for the possibility that I would have to take him to town, if I check out any more of his work.

The thing that I liked the most was how I got what I expected to find in a work of thriller.

While, as I have noted plenty of times already, I am much more familiar with works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, when outside of the world of manga, I am no stranger to works that are or can be considered thrillers, and, just like mystery fans, regardless of whether you want to combine detective, mystery, and crime fiction into a single genre or not, have certain expectations, fans of thriller have their own, which has more to do with feelings they get, as opposed to challenging the audience.

Throughout my time reading this book, I remember being kept on the edge of my seat, with feelings of suspense, surprise, anticipation, or anxiety, though the surprise was not really as high as the other feelings I felt while reading this.

Joseph and people who helped him polish this book up to be as good as it turned out to be, really did a good job on maintaining the atmosphere, knowing when things needed to be turned done, so that the audience would not become numb to what was going on, and when to have things happen.

This is what I want to see in a good work of thriller, because this is how one is supposed to keep a reader engaged, and Joseph really delivered.

If Joseph had made any slips, or beta readers, proof readers, and editors, overlooked the problems this work had before publication, I would have been disgusted with myself for even trying this book out, and that is something no reader should have to feel.

Fortunately, that did not happen, and I can give Joseph another good round of applause.

Hopefully, Joseph’s work will improve from this point on, as he seems to be on the right track with, but because this is only his first book, it could have also been a fluke that this turned out to be any good.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be added into or stood out as much as what I talked about already.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up to end, the characters seem to be interesting enough, because the writer did not do anything to make it obvious that these characters were missing anything, and it delivered what I expected from a thriller, this was one of the best books I have read this year.

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk about, such as typos, there was only one thing that annoyed me.

There were, little, if any surprises.

Now, this might be a little acceptable in a suspense novel, as works of suspense focus more on giving the audience the feeling of suspense than the other feeling a general thriller is supposed to provide, but many of the feelings of that a fan of thrillers expects to get comes from the element of surprise, which is created by twists, making readers ignore the possibility, and/or making things that reader previously written off as unimportant, thereby making the feeling of surprise one of the most important things in a work of thriller, and Joseph seemed to take quite a bit of a fall in this area.

Early on in the book, when Seth Walker did not know who he was up against or who was leaking intel, I found myself surprised quite often, though my experience with the detective, mystery, and crime fiction has trained me to consider the earliest portions of a book the times when I should be collecting details, not making guesses or assuming everything is safe, and helped to in establishing a possibility that I would have feelings of anticipation, but the moment that Seth Walker found out that there was a leak, the surprises pretty much disappeared, outside of one certain situation.

After that point, things felt flat because I could see what was coming from a mile away, like the attacks that Seth’s enemies perpetrated and the true mastermind, who was always on my suspect list.

If had to say why things ended up like this, it would be because the mystery aspect was weak.

Yes, thrillers do not usually have the best mysteries out there, but an element of mystery is important to having a great work of thriller, as it allows for an element of surprise to be possible.

If the mystery has not been handled well in books like this, which has a mystery of some kind be the main focus and what drives the story, it makes it so that the audience cannot really be surprised, unless they, like many other people, write things off because the character is a teenager or lack the ability to know what fishy behavior is.

Unfortunately, that is what plagues this book, because I saw little to no attempt from Joseph Reid to attempt to redirect me through red herrings, especially the kind where the possibility is way too obvious to be true, or through any other means.

If Joseph made things so that each reasonable possibility was equally likely, and had me keep jumping around, I would have experienced the feeling of surprise and shock more often, which would have made this book be close enough to perfection that I would have considered giving it a perfect score.

Sadly, that did not occur, and the feelings of surprise disappeared before it should have.

Hopefully, he can improve in this area in his future works, but the only way I really see this being fixed is if book sellers stopped grouping mysteries and thrillers together in one area, as fans of detective, mystery, and crime fiction, who browse the mystery section because people consider those three genres as synonymous, thereby leading to a possibility that they think they are getting something that is not what they think.

Thankfully, that was the only thing that bugged me, and I can let Joseph walk away somewhat unscathed.

While there only one thing that really bothered me, the issue was not bad enough that it hurt the book too much, if at all, unless somebody bought this thinking it was a work in either mystery, detective, or crime fiction genres.

Despite the that there was annoyance that was bad enough that it deserved some mention, the positives overshadowed things enough that this was definitely worth reading.

I recommend this to fans of thriller or those that want to see what a thriller is, as they would be able to enjoy this the most.

As for everyone, this is worth giving a try, but fans of the mystery, detective, and crime fiction that think they might have come across a great mystery novel will likely be disappointed, due to the lack of any attempt to misdirect the reader.

If you liked this review and would like more, please consider donating as little as a $1/month to me on Patreon or buy a copy of Takeoff, the reviewed titled, from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you guys, and, hopefully, get back on a good schedule.

Copyright © 2018 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.