Book Review

Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown’s THE OCEAN OF STORMS

mari-christopher-ocean-of-storms-coverTitle: Ocean of Storms
Author: Christopher Mari and Jeremy K. Brown
Format: eBook, courtesy of NetGalley and 47North
Secondary Format: audiobook, narrated by Luke Daniels
Start Date: January 5, 2017
End Date: January 13, 2017
Rating: 3 stars

She felt both small and part of something greater, a mere piece of stitching in the fabric of the quilt of life and yet something intrinsic to the whole. The idea was remarkably comforting.

Synopsis:

In the near future, an EM pulse surges across the entire Earth, briefly debilitating the technology of the world. When the dust settles, scientists note that this pulse opened a crater on the surface of the Moon in the Ocean of Storms.

moon-ocean-of-storms-location

In a desperate attempt of control, both the United State and China race to get to the Moon. However, neither has the capabilities on their own. Instead, they must work together to prepare for a dangerous journey into the unknown, sending a group of astronauts and archeologists that will be the first people to step on the moon since Apollo 17 (in 1972).

Review:

This book was divided into three parts.

Part 1: The Signal is comprised of the EM pulse and the subsequent race to the Moon. I really enjoyed this part as I felt it was exciting. I also didn’t mind the science fiction terms because I am in the sciences. Part 2: Oceanus Procellarum (or, the Ocean of Storms), told of the team’s travel to the Moon and what they found there. I also felt that this section was thrilling, though I would have enjoyed more detail about their stay. I felt that the narration was building up to this point, and then it went a little flat. However, for me, it all started to fall apart when they made their discovery on the moon. Part 3: The Caldera reflected the aftermath of what they found on the Moon, and the race to discover more answers before anyone else.

I think the ending of the book was a little too cliché. It was open-ended enough to allow for a sequel, however, I still think everything seemed to be tied up too neatly. Without giving too much away, instead of trying to make sense of what was there, the characters (and authors) just lazily labeled it as a conspiracy theory to explain everything away that didn’t make sense. It was a little frustrating.

I am curious as to how the authors split up this book. It might have been just me, but I felt that there was a tangible divide between the first half of the book, which felt more like science fiction with their race to the Moon, and the second half of the book, which felt more like the authors trying to get too philosophical in their explanations. The second half of the book also wasn’t as exciting because it was told primarily on Earth (more specifically, in Tanzania), and it was a bit of a let-down after the excitement of racing to the Moon.

I recently read another book written by two authors whose method was to write alternating chapters and then try to blend everything together. The end result was that you could see the seams in that book. However, in Ocean of Storms, there weren’t that many seams; it was just slightly hard to reconcile the exciting nature of space travel to the characters’ determination of the implications of what they found to the future of mankind.

Another gripe I had with this book was the distinct lack of female characters present. There were only three main female characters to match the slew of their male counterparts.

The President of the United States was female. I thought this was done relatively well, with the authors not making too big of a fuss over the matter, though they mentioned her temperament several times but never her name (this makes me wonder if they purposely intended her character to be modeled after a real person…). However, all of her advisors were men. There were also no other high-ranking government officials that were women. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was apparently also a woman, but she was only mentioned in passing towards the end of the book.

Syd was a badass pilot who had served in the military and was now working for NASA, but the authors’ made a point of mentioning explicitly that she was “pretty.” I also felt that she was not given enough air time, existing merely as a motivator for Donavan’s storyline.

And finally, there was Soong, a female Chinese archeologist. She reminded me a little of Temperance Brennan from the show Bones: she was a smart, passionate forensic anthropologist who loved her job. She did not play a major part in the first part of the story, beyond her introduction, but she was an integral part of the Moon Mission. And by “integral,” I mean that she took a backseat to the Dynamic Duo, Zell and Donavan. However, I felt that she was robbed of a bigger story because of her implied relationship with a male crew member. She had the world at her fingertips, she could do whatever she wanted. Hell, I wouldn’t even care if she decided to pursue her scientific passion if it was for scientific passion alone, but I felt that she was robbed of a bigger story because the authors wanted to imply an impending relationship with one of her male crewmembers.

(I admit that I am probably reading way too much into this, but I feel passionate about getting more women into science especially. I just felt that the men of the book hogged the spotlight, but that’s from the viewpoint of a female chemistry graduate student who tends to pay attention to little things like these.)

My rating for this review hovered around 3.5-stars for a majority of the book. I thought it was interesting, but unsure if it was worthy of a boost up to a full 4-stars or a demotion to a more average 3-stars. For me, it came down to the ending: conspiracy theories (and the trained scientists’ lack of reluctance to accept these as concrete facts) and the portrayal of women (or lack thereof) throughout the entirety of the book. I would definitely be interested in reading a sequel, if there is one, but might I suggest the introduction of some smart, badass female characters to balance out the testosterone?

I enjoyed the audiobook version of Ocean of Storms. I felt that the narrator, Luke Daniels, did a very nice job. I liked his distinct voices for each of the characters, which was often helpful since there were quite a few to keep track of.

Thank you to NetGalley and 47North for a free copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review!

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