The Island (Part 1), by Michael Stark, Reviewed.


This book, as the subtitle suggests, is the beginning of a story. For me, it is, as with so many ‘books’ in the current market, not what I understand to be a book. It’s a scene setter. It follows a marketing technique that’s been used in other industries for years but one I feel is unsuited to the idea of a book.

However, that said, what about the content? The writing is very good, though there was a tad too much detail about the navigation and operation of a sailboat than I wanted or needed. The settings are beautifully conveyed and, most importantly for me, the characters are fully fleshed out and easy to get to know. There’s certainly no problem with empathy here and it’s easy to connect with the players.

From this beginning stems the promise of a good story. The prologue, in particular, gives a real flavour of what might be to come: a dystopian future on a planet beset by some form of plague.

This initial part work is offered free and the rest of the book can be bought either in four more parts or in a complete collection, all very reasonably priced. But will I buy the remainder? I’m really not sure. I’m an old fashioned reader and dislike this marketing technique, though I know it’s popular both with some writers and some readers. And this one is at least honest enough to make it clear from the outset that the first offering is only the start. I’m sure many readers may prefer this method, which allows them to sample the item prior to a decision to buy. But such samples are actually easily arranged by providing them at publication, using the ‘Look Inside’ feature that allows such sampling anyway. So, I don’t know.

As for this part of the book: it performs a function and does it well. It sets the scene and introduces some of the main characters. But it isn’t a story. It’s a beginning. There is, within these pages, no real middle, no real end.

If you’re a lover of science fiction/fantasy and enjoy dystopian fiction, you may well be happy to accept this free offering as a teaser. It will depend on your outlook and your view of what constitutes a book whether you then buy the rest.