The Blurb Reads,
Evolved Publishing presents the psychological thriller “Shatter Point” by Jeff Altabef. This stand-alone follow-up to “Fourteenth Colony” features political intrigue and gruesome crime in the near future. Maggie met Cooper at a young age, but even then she sensed something was wrong with him. His charm, good looks, and wealth could not hide the danger that burned in his sapphire eyes. Some nightmares don’t go away. He’d been haunting her from a distance for as long as she could remember.
Now things have changed. When her sons Jack and Tom discover she’s been taken, they set out to rescue her and uncover nefarious family secrets, explosive government conspiracies, and a series of horrific murders along the way. Only their colorful great aunt and a covert resistance group can help them navigate the dark underworld full of political subterfuge and class warfare. All the while, Maggie struggles to outwit her tormentor in a life and death psychological battle of tense desperation. Will Jack and Tom arrive before Cooper reaches his shatter point?
Midwest Book Review has described Jeff Altabef as an “articulate and engaging storyteller” and “a contemporary novelist of considerable merit and imagination.
I read the blurb and the excerpt and for some odd reason, I didn’t sign up for this tour. When I read some of the reviews, I realised this was a psychological thriller set in the future. It seemed like a great read so I edged into the blog tour and here is my review!!
My first thoughts were, I wonder where the futuristic part comes in? The book starts off with Dr. Darian Beck, who is working on an experimental drug which would help to reverse brain shrinkage and brain damage. The book then shifts to Maggie and her sons, a normal family. But Maggie hides behind her smile, a terrible secret. She has spent her life hounded by a man Cooper, who has daunted and intimidated her. He is a psychologically disturbed person who is trapped within a maze created in his mind.
I had different views about this book and then I happened to read a review which brought out a few insecurities I had with this book. Hence the delay in writing the review because I wanted to be sure my review objectively reflected my thoughts and feelings.
The book’s genre isn’t particular. The story is set in the future, in a world where the chasm between the rich and the poor is wide. So it isn’t a dystopian one by a long mile, even though it has a few taints.
The book isn’t a mystery, although the book’s main focus is on finding Maggie. The book is a spin off from the earlier novel ‘Fourteenth Colony’ by Jeff Altabef and although I didn’t find this connection influencing the book, I wish I had read the earlier book.
I don’t really know why I am so disturbed as I write the review. Usually, I have very clear points about what I liked or what I thought about the book.
So, let me write about the highlights.
Cooper is a wonderful villain. The initial glimpses we get of his sick mind and how he intends to twist Maggie to suit one impression he had of her, is terrifying. It scares me sometimes, to think that there are people who think like this, and are serial killers because of their obsession with one person. Cooper was maniacal, a megalomaniac and had zero emotions. His eccentricities made him a wonderful read.
But, as the title goes, Shatter Point describes that state of mind where our mind gets so enraptured in its own misgivings, that it cannot find a way out. In the ancient Indian Book, Mahabharata, a character, Abhimanyu gets stuck in a chakravyuh (= a circle which cannot be broken) and he does not have the knowledge to get out of it. I could draw parallels from this to Cooper.
What I also enjoyed, was looking at Maggie from Cooper’s eyes. Also, how creepy Cooper was, as a child. That was exceptionally well done.
When Cooper reaches Shatter Point, or which is the crucial point of this book, the book plummets in terms of keeping up reader interest. Cooper’s degeneration is not at all interesting. It happens so fast that I was trying to get my mind wrapped around it and I couldn’t.
I’ve written time and again about how writers have this perfect build up and then for some absurd reason, derail ALL their efforts while concluding the book.
I’m alright if the ending isn’t happy, but here, I feel in the effort to make the book end on a happy note, several points or several storylines were compromised.
There were several points which I wasn’t very happy with.
I felt I couldn’t connect to Maggie at all as a person. She was just someone who was a part of the book, someone who had to be rescued. I couldn’t connect with her thoughts, her journey and all I gleaned is her fear of Cooper’s volcanic anger. And her love for her family.
The angle of the drug and bringing it in, I am in two minds about it, because, in a way, it helped to reveal who Cooper was and to sort of create a back story for the characters. But it was UNNECESSARY. It wasn’t really required, the drug and its effects on Jack. Again, maybe my response would have been better, had the ending not been as such. It is an experimental drug. Who knows how long it might take to turn out right. For it to turn out right, just in time to save Jack, was a little bit far fetched. My suspension of disbelief stopped right there.
I found Aunt Jackie to be a feisty character. Her past intrigued me and it made me wish I had an insight into her mind and maybe that I could read her own story. Even though she is a small part of the book, but she captured my imagination.
I also wondered about how it all started. How was the world in 2041? How and what made the ghettos what they were and how did the Government become as it was. I suspect the answer to these questions lies in Fourteenth Colony and I’ll probably have to read that to make sure all my questions are answered.
I didn’t like the part where Jack gets powers because of the drug. Headaches and vision problems, I understand. But him developing powers like gleaning memories and having electricity flow when he touched Cooper and for the author to say something like “it felt like Cooper was a part of Jack” and somehow Jack’s touch transferred Cooper’s memories and feelings to him was a little bit too much. That portion definitely was a let down
I also had an unanswered question about what happened to Darian Beck when he was held for interrogation.
What I did enjoy though, is discovering who Cooper was and how Maggie escaped. That portion, the thrill when I was involved in finding where Maggie was kept and how she was rescued, was very interesting.
All in all, there were some parts which were brilliant. They kept me hooked to the book and I wanted to find out what happened next. But having said that, I felt the parts that weighed this book down, definitely could have been avoided.
My Rating: 2.5/5
My First Low Rating for a Novel Publicity Book but the things that pulled it down fought with what made the book shine!