A Review – Offworld (Day 2)

Six months out, six months back, two years on the surface of Mars. For dedicated astronauts, scientists, and adventurers, three years is just enough time to accomplish the greatest expedition in the history of mankind — but it’s also a long time away from home.

Christopher Burke shares his teammates’ eagerness to get home, home to a hero’s welcome, to family, to real food. When their ship, the Ares, loses contact with Houston several months before the return voyage ends, they figure it’s just a computer glitch onboard. Then comes the swirling black void spotted just before entering orbit, the system failure, the plummeting death of the Ares with its astronauts saved against all odds by an automated landing program at the Cape.

Then the emptiness.

Every man, woman, child, and animal on earth has disappeared.

Offworld CoverDetermined to find out what has happened, Chris and his team borrow a couple of offroad vehicles and hit the freeways of the southern U.S., dodging pile-ups of empty cars as they journey toward Houston — source of a brilliant beam of light, and, they hope, of the answers they need. On the way they rescue a homeless girl (“Who do you think I am?” she asks; “You’re the fly in the ointment,” Owen answers”), battle a ferocious storm, discover the enemy, and come to terms with secrets of their own.

Action-packed, exciting, a veritable comic book in all prose (see my last post), Offworld left me feeling like I’d just watched an action flick. Its characters make a great team, real people and likable, with definite foibles and follies. Parrish reveals his characters more through action and dialogue than through interior monologue, adding to the summer-blockbuster feel. His prose can be clunky (“Trisha piled out of the SUV” was a howler), and I couldn’t help feeling as though some editor somewhere had fallen asleep on the job — one doesn’t “withdraw” a gun for a fight, one draws it. But the writing does what it sets out to do, which is tell a whopping story and tell it well. For all their occasional bad verbs, Parrish’s action scenes are detailed, vivid, and adrenaline-pumping. There isn’t a single gory or otherwise objectionable scene from a moral standpoint, which makes the book particularly suited to young action fans.

Readers looking for a strong Christian message won’t exactly find one here — the characters’ moment of epiphany, led up to by Chris’s habit of asking someone vague for “a little help here,” is that they’re not alone in the universe. Who else is with them and what that means to their personal lives is never really explored. The climax involves a spiritual element which I found a little out of place; had the rest of the book possessed a more mystical feel, I might have found it more fitting.

All in all, Offworld is a good read, an exciting story, a fine alternative to sitting in another theatre for two more hours taking in action mixed with the world’s un-clean fun.



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4 responses to “A Review – Offworld (Day 2)”

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  3. Dona Watson Avatar

    I saw on Parrish’s blog something about comic books, but it didn’t click until I saw your post (yesterday) about him writing comic books. Anyone who can tell a great story in such a small space has my admiration. And I agree, Offworld does read much like a comic book. I can definitely see the correlation. Great review! I look forward to your 3rd post.

  4. Melissa Avatar

    RYC on my blog: Very good point about why the “baddies” are still on earth. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed your take on the book.

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