"Stranded" Book Review
Written by Jonathan Lees
Published by Tor Books
Written by Bracken MacLeod
2016, 304 pages, Fiction
Released on October 4th, 2016
"He didn't want to be anybody's last hope. Because that meant hope was already lost."
An accurate quote to reflect on for the story of Noah Cabot, the reluctant fisherman from Gloucester, setting sail on his proposed last journey. He boards the Arctic Promise with a mission to supply the OrbitOil drilling platform Nilfheim with his tyrannical father-in-law at the helm. A man who still blames Noah for the death of a former crewmate and the loss of his daughter to cancer.
Author Bracken MacLeod throws us right into the heart of a storm to kickstart the stomach churning setting and the unpredictable, dangerous tone Stranded takes as the crew struggles with each punishing challenge before it. A debilitating sickness, flitting hallucinations and eventually the ship beset in ice was something none of them had planned for yet not all they will face before their journey is over. With the fog surrounding and the infinite plain of white ice beyond, the isolation of the crew is maximized, so they have nothing to focus on but themselves and their own personal demons.
We'd like to think that we're built for, or at least work towards, being capable and adaptable to any situation. We'd like to believe that through any obstacle we'd come out at least with some semblance of dignity. To follow this man, Noah Cabot, "born with rough hands, no amount of college was going to get him off the killing floor" and "worth more dead than alive to most people he knew except his daughter" is to look upon our own selves as we travel a treacherous terrain and the increasingly more abhorrent behavior of those that surround us. It is within this relatable and internal conflict that MacLeod finds his light in the darkness.
Stranded is a terse thriller that keeps enough detail to make you feel every crunch and crack of the ice and groan of the weary bones of every man aboard. From the horrors of survivalist adventure to the menace of a fractured fraternity to a mystery that changes the stakes for everyone on board, MacLeod keeps the story afloat and the pacing full speed ahead.
In perfect harmony with the biting winds of winter upon us, Bracken MacLeod has unleashed a muscular and harrowing mind-bender that invigorates the reader with a grand sense of adventure, even if you're never leaving the comfort of a blanket stuffed sofa.