Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

The Flight of the Silvers.  Daniel Price. Blue Rider Press.  February 2014. 608 pp. paperback and e-book. ISBN #: 9780399164989.

A cataclysm beyond imagination is about to occur in America and other places around the globe.  Before it happens, six young people will have different experiences in which they are surrounded by a bubble-like, clear globe that protectively encases them.  Those who are dying around them are unable to penetrate that formidable wall and those inside will have to watch a horrific scene of mayhem and destruction.  They are known as the Silvers and are transported to a small community setting in San Diego in what is known as Altamerica.  Over the next few weeks, they discover they have super-powers with mysterious and frustratingly purposeless repetition. 

One character can run at a speed ten times faster than her former human self.  One receives notes from herself and others about the past, present and future.  One learns to transport himself back to experiences that happened hours past or hours in the future.  Another can create a white structure capable of destroying something in her path but which only operates when she’s angry. On and on it goes.  It takes time for the leaders, or captors, of this community to reveal what they are experiencing and the physicist experiments they are invited to participate in to enhance scientific understanding of the rare phenomenon each is undergoing.  But all isn’t simple and there appears to be people outside of their community who suspect something more devious is being planned.

Add to the mix that history seems to have split down the middle since the middle of the twentieth century so that there are two stories of American history now known.
A grand, brutal, violent, bloody and death-dealing escape happens and the remainder of the story of the Silvers follows their journey across Altamerica as their captors pursue them, now planning destruction rather than scientific experimentation.

The characters Amanda and her sister Hannah, Zach, David, and Mia dominate the tale with other characters, all fueling the constant conflicts threatening to destroy their unified decision to seek the New York community that may help them prevent the future apocalypse that as been predicted.  This dynamic, intense, nerve-wracking and page-turning science fiction novel is the first of a planned trilogy and one which will make true science fiction lovers want to relish over and over, as well as hungrily anticipate the next part of the series.  There’s enough underpinning of quantum physics to make this novel about time and its mysterious elements highly credible and intriguing.

Very nicely crafted, Daniel Price and a winner about credible, fascinating science fiction!

Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca by Maria Goodavage

Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca.  Maria Goodavage. Penguin Group USA.  October 2014. 320 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780525954361.

A follow-up book about canine warrior dogs serving in Afghanistan, Top Dog… continues the story with a detailed account of the service of dog handler Sgt. Chris Wilingham and his canine partner, Lucca.  Willingham is a Marine about to  add another phase to his military deployment by working with a German Shepherd-Malinois dog named Lucca.  Before their service, the author describes the intense training Willingham and other dog-handlers underwent in Israel, apparently the place where the wartime human-dog interaction has been mastered when training them to seek, find, defuse or implode IEDs, otherwise known as improvised explosive devices.  A beautiful, fragile and noble chapter describes how each dog handler bonds with the animal they will be working with in such intensely dangerous conditions.  It’s a bond for life, not just one created for a job.  We see how dogs liked Lucca were brilliantly successful, learning to love, trust and implicitly obey their handler’s orders.  We also see how the failures of other dogs would mean the death of dog, handler or both in the volatile conditions they were being trained to encounter and handle.

Lucca and Willingham travel for what will be two tours of Iraq.  The account describes the conditions of each mission, ranging from finding IEDs, finding those who are stealing and hiding weapons for battle, finding those insurgents who are attacking the military bases with mortars at all hours of day and night, and keeping a constant alertness to the presence of traitors and snipers in the most expected and unexpected moments.  The reader experiences the handlers’ pride in their pooches’ loyalty and faithful adherence to the task as hand, as well as the phenomenally intense anxiety-ridden moments constantly looming over every mission and even their “rest” periods when not out on the job. 

The story of Cory Wiens and his dog Cooper is told with sensitivity and nobility; it’s a story every reader will never forget.  The story of the trauma mentally and physically endured by the dog handlers will also remain a powerful memory for the reader.  “War is hell” almost becomes a trite phrase hardly underscoring the strains of those who serve and served in Iraq, as well as the strife experienced by their families back home in America, in this case Willingham’s wife, who assume full care of family life while constantly fearing for the safety of their husbands who serve multiple deployments out of love of country and fellow soldiers. The thoughts and feelings on all sides are ever-present and all too often ever-consuming.

Top Dog: The Story of Marine hero Lucca is an unforgettable read that this reviewer highly, highly recommends.  It’s a story that’s lovely, funny, tragic and so much more.  Every American needs to not only read this book but find a way to honor those actual soldiers and canine warriors and their missions which so perfectly parallel their military service to our country! Wonderful job, Maria Goodavage, and service to our nation!