Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book review for The Lancaster Rule by TK Toppin

I truly enjoyed The Lancaster Rule by T.K. Toppin. What an intriguing concept this book incorporates. It creates the expectation of an entertaining story to come, and the plot doesn’t disappoint.

This is a sci-fi story set in the future 300 years. Josie Bettencourt is a twenty-first century woman put into suspended animation for centuries. She wakes up as a twenty-five-year-old or a three hundred-year-old woman, however you want to look at it, from her pod in a totally alien world—the oldest pod survivor ever—and witnesses the totalitarian Lancaster rule. She experiences some pretty wicked adventures. The awakening is plausible, and Ms. Toppin did a good job showing Josie’s frustration at her recovery. I believed it could actually happen that way.

Josie is a well-developed character with a memorable personality, having her own quirks. Her vulgar language is humorous in certain situations. She proves to be quite heroic as well, engendering respect. I enjoyed reading her expressive, outgoing responses to things, and she cried at times, making her quite human and real.

The story gets into her psychology and touches upon futuristic social issues. The world building as a whole is well done with many futuristic/scientific/technological details that paint a realistic picture of scientific advancement. Reading about the cool advances like temperature control, travel and communications was fun.

Josie finds herself arrested when her companion blows up a place, something Josie didn’t see coming. She meets John Lancaster, the president and world leader. John is an interesting character as well, subdued and calculating, reserved unless provoked. I really liked him. The author has a talent for characterization.

The motivations throughout the story remain good and are quite believable. Suspenseful situations kept me turning pages. I wondered how Josie was going to act when faced with a situation that tore her loyalties in two directions: toward Lorcan, the man who helped her, an enemy of John, or to John, who she grows close to. The book took an unexpected romantic turn. I was surprised by the strength of a developing relationship. Josie’s and…well, I don’t want to give it away.

A group of rebels attack the Citadel where Josie and the president reside. The later part of the book is filled with exciting fight scenes for survival and had me at the edge of my seat.

Were there any aspects of this story I didn’t like? Well, in the beginning especially, there was lots of telling as opposed to showing, reporting the past. The scenes didn’t unroll in the present, and I got frustrated with this at times, but admittedly, if the author would have written this out, she could have had another book.

At times a point of view issue occurred, for example, with the phrase: unbeknownst to me. That and some distant writing, ie: lots of “to be” conjugations and that pesky word “felt” drew me out of the story. Some repetitiveness occurs and changes in person as well, from first to third etc. I found that a little distracting. I skimmed over some parts early on, having wished they were written out in the present. For example, “He talked of…the school system, the workforce, the sporting activities…” etc. Or there were vague phrases such as “strange looking flowers…” “He smelled really good.” I had no clue what to picture or smell here. I needed more details and couldn’t get an accurate picture in these little sections. I kept hoping Josie would get a tour and get to see these things, touch them, and describe them etc. from her twenty-first century point of view. Thank goodness other details were so well written that I could get a picture of the world as a whole.

The occasional author intrusion bothered me. For example: “The memory of what happened next would still haunt her when she least expected it.”

The beginning was the most problematic for me with my concerns; however, the story got so good, that I no longer noticed these things after a while. I’ll remember Josie and John and the others for a very long time, and I’ll think of this story often I’m sure. I loved it and would highly recommend it, even with the things of which I took issue. The Lancaster Rule was a story well worth reading, one of the most enjoyable I’ve read in a while. The ending had me smiling. I loved the sense of humor woven throughout the story, even among the very serious parts of the books that kept me riveted. This story entertains and takes a reader on an emotional ride. Check it out!

I was given this a copy of this book by the author for review. There was no financial compensation, and it is my opinion only and has in no way been influenced by the author.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Great review. Keeping the story and protagonist consistant takes skill.


TKToppin said...

Thanks Laura for that wonderful review. I really appreciate it - constructive criticism and all. This will only make me a better writer. Glad to hear that the characters have made an impression on you (Yes! Objective achieved!!) since I tried quite hard to make it a character-driven story.
Thanks again - shall we do this again for the sequel? Hint-hint? :)

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Hello, Julie, I agree with you on that one! And TK, I'd love to! Please let me know when the sequel is ready. You were a great success at making your work character-driven. :) -Laura