Monday, June 11, 2012

Edi's Spotlight: First Cause by Paul West

Dear Readers,

nowadays there are many ways to get in contact with an author. A while ago I met Paul West on Facebook. We talked about things in common and books in detail. It did not take long until he told me that he is an author.
To keep the story short I agreed to read and review his debut novel First Cause (digital book, self-published) [Amazon Kindle, ASIN: B004XQV7ZE]. Paul West has been so kind as to send me a digital copy.


Today with some delay I present you my review of a surprising read. I was not sure what to expect from a book with this title and subtitle: First Cause  A Novel About Human Possibilities

Title, blurb and cover do not reveal much as you can read and see.

 First Cause (digital book, self-published)
 [Amazon Kindle, ASIN: B004XQV7ZE]

"The world is in chaos from a two-day battery of explosions in many of its major cities.

A week after the explosions, journalist Adam Grey wakes up in the hospital. He pieces together the events leading to his injury, involving a woman named Angela.

Senator Cyrus Reardon has been appointed the new President of the United States' decimated government. A politician who isn't generally fond of his peers, he's faced with leading a discordant provisional Cabinet, addressing the nation's growing panic, and trying to separate fact from fiction.

Confronted with the truth behind the attacks, they--along with the world at large--are forced to reconsider conventional assumptions about human nature and possibility.

Everything we know is until we find out otherwise..." [Source]

My Expectations

I have had a look at the author's site where I discovered that there is a long story behind this book (it was a screenplay idea in the early 1990s, fell into oblivion for nearly ten years on a shelf, awakened again in 1999).
Some books need their time until they want to be written and read.
I avoided to read any reviews and with that I started as an unsuspecting reader.

The Delivery

My digital copy delivered 218 pages text divided into 16 chapters.
Quite short for A Novel About Human Possibilities. But as always quantity does not define quality.

After I have finished a book I mostly add short impression on GOODREADS. In case of First Cause I wrote:
"A thoughtful debut novel with a scifi touch."
This single sentence contains two information about the book and one information about the author Paul West.

Let's see what is hidden behind the thoughtfulness and behind the scifi touch.

Some of the important characters are mentioned in the book description above (which you hopefully read).
It is up to journalist Adam Grey to find out the truth behind the explosions in the major cities of the world. 
Angela is responsible for the revelation of the scifi touch: Aliens caused the explosions. But I promise you that you will be surprised by these aliens. You will not get any more details about the content itself.

It does not take long until you recognize that the story is told in flash-back sequences which changes around half way through the story.
Step by step Adam gathers pieces of information. And every piece is connected with more than one decision:
- Is the information believable?
- If it is believable how does it fit to the so far known information?
- Is the information worth to share or is it dangerous to share?
- With whom do you share the information?
- Whom can you trust?

- What is the impact of the information?
You see where the thoughtful derives from.

Paul West delivers the hunt for information and what finally happens in an entertaining way. It is like throwing a rock in a lake and study what happens whereupon the rock represent information, the lake represent makind and each drop of water represents a human being and the resulting wave represents what happens.

And Paul West delivers more. With the alien element he installed a mirror of the society, especially western society. The reader gets the opportunity to reflect possible developments of society.

Fortunately Paul West is far beyond to be schoolmasterly. All the thoughtful things are well hidden behind deliberately dosed action, thriller elements and conspiracy.

From my point of view there are two minor issues which do not destroy the overall positive impression:

At times the author tends to expand explanations when he delivers extended descriptions when the reader expect the continuation of the story.

The end is a bit aprupt and therefore leaves the reader with open questions.
Is the end volitional or will there be a sequel?
There is a man who knows the answer.

All in all I liked this "[...] thoughtful debut novel with a scifi touch."

So my first impression was not that bad. But it deserves an amelioration.

First Cause is a thoughtful, intelligent written debut novel with thriller elements and a scifi touch. 

Stay away if you look for an straightforward action packed thriller with alien invasion.

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