Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Book Review: 'Vostok' by Steve Alten

Title:  Vostok (Official, Amazon, GoodReads)
Author:  Steve Alten (Official, Facebook, Twitter, YouTubeGoodReads, Wikipedia)

Vostok is an interesting book; one that goes in a direction that you wouldn't really expect.  I am a big Steve Alten fan, in fact he is one of, if not my favorite author (I go back and forth between Alten and Terry Brooks).  I have followed his career since the early 2000s and have read almost everything he has written.  Alten is one of those writers whose work is exceptionally easy and fun to read.  He has this innate ability to craft stories that are vivid and complex and very realistic while at the same time constructing them in a way that even the most reluctant readers can plow right through to the end of the book in no time.  With a style that I've often described as a mixture between Michael Crichton, Peter Benchley, and Dan Brown, Alten's books are filled with science facts that at times make it hard to distinguish where the science facts end and the science fiction begins.

Vostok is the sequel to what I consider to be Alten's best book, The Loch and a prequel to the upcoming MEG 5: Nightstalkers.  The story follow's Zachary Wallace years after the events of The Loch.  Now married with a son, Wallace is floundering in nearly every way imaginable as are the communities surrounding Loch Ness.  Wallace is approached by a team with a picture of an ancient creature whose remains were discovered in Antarctica.  After identifying the species, Wallace was offered the opportunity to part of the first team to explore the hidden world of Lake Vostok, an ancient lake buried under miles of glacier ice in Antarctica.  What they find will change everything.

Knowing Alten's previous work, it is safe to assume that shenanigans with monsters will be prevalent in Vostok but that only scratches the surface.  This book goes from science fiction thriller to philosophic mystery and back again, hitting on themes of family, love, trust, the unknown, the origins of life on earth, the meaning of life, quantum physics, humanity, and God.  The end result is a satisfying read across a bumpy road that takes a little bit a faith to get through but is completely worth it when it is done.  Wallace is a great character and the merging of this world with that of Alten's MEG series not only works but makes perfect sense (there's even a bit of Jonas Taylor thrown in for good measure).  Overall Vostok is a fun, engaging, and even thought provoking read that is one that I will be recommending for years to come.

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