"The Ponce Factor" by J.D. Crawford
A book of two halves, really, the first with a very interesting and somewhat novel premise. When a young chemist questions why a particular additive has incidentally stopped the ageing process in his fruit juice, he decides on a whim to analyse the composition and accidentally discovers the secret to eternal life. Whilst the formula brings him fame and incredible fortune, cue then the inevitable standard fare we come to expect as a given with any near future sci-fi: the worst case two-fold scenario of mass hysteria of mob mentality, as everyone wants to live forever and, of course, the nefarious grand plans of ambitious arch criminals among the world’s elite. Sci-fi has a tendency to plummet into the dystopia theme in these somewhat hopeless times, and most tend to include a moral allegory about the inequality of the haves and have-nots; this one is no different; typically, the world is plunged into chaos, as humanity reverts to a mindless horde of thugs, and the planet pretty much turns into a chaotic wasteland of rioting and mass violence. The second common element of the genre is of course the relentless lust for power of the haves to control, profit and rule over the have-nots.
The second half of the book then changes tack somewhat, into a principal storyline format – pure Koontz suspense thriller, with assassins, corrupt leaders, kidnapping and an action narrative, becoming all about a small number of characters one might traditionally call the heroes and the villains, as the former set out to dash the dastardly plans of the latter, invariably dwarfing them in magnitude and power. This section of the book, I have to say honestly, becomes a little more troublesome to read. Not that it isn’t intriguing or engaging – far from it, it is an exciting, gripping read – but rather because it starts to follow the viewpoint of a number of characters, each playing their own small part in the web of suspense the author weaves. The fact that one of the characters narrates in a first-person style perhaps doesn’t help in this respect, as you do wonder how he (presumably then the principal) knows what is going on elsewhere, in order for the book to be told. First-person narrative is not a format to be taken lightly, and I think in this case it perhaps does a little more harm than good.
The book is good, though. Could do with a bit of polishing, but Crawford has composed a very decent, enthralling premise for a book, and the synopsis for this one is a pretty enticing one. If you like your sci-fi in the gritty, far-fetched-yet-entirely-credible-in-its-execution-style of Crichton, it is definitely worth a read, and I would recommend doing so. If the author’s other work is as creative and entertaining as this one, I’d very much like to see what else he has written.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: j-d-crawford sci-fi action dystopia futuristic thriller suspense action