This kicks off my round 2 reading for SPSFC. I’m responsible for reading the 27 books that have been put forward by the other nine teams. I went through the list of semifinalists and tried to find what I hoped to be a long list of audiobooks. But alas, there really aren’t that many. Maybe a handful. I started off with a book narrated by Nick Podehl, since he’s one of my favorites — it’s really hard to go wrong with him as your narrator.
So we’ve got a bunch of folks hanging out in a coffee shop just being normal people when suddenly a portion of the building is transported back to the Cretaceous period. Like, straight up Triceratops and whatnot stompin’ around doing dinosaur shit. There are ten people at the start when they get transported, but that number quickly begins to dwindle as they are trying to navigate an alien landscape full of animals that will fuck your shit up. I like how the duckbill dinosaurs and the Triceratops aren’t portrayed as these gentle lumbering beasts that will leave well enough alone. Nah, these guys are more like hippos or rhinos. Sure, they eat plants. Sure, they’ll also kill you.
The haphazard group of ten have a wide variety of personalities and they all have to find a way to work together to get back ‘home’, however it is they’re going to do that. It is possible for them to return to normal life and they do come up with a plan — but, I don’t want to go into too many plot points that crop up later on. One of the more interesting and more fucked up characters is this dude named Al. He’s a total incel. I wasn’t sure at first, but as the book went on and you spend more time in his head — holy shit what a fucked up individual. Honestly, thank god the author leaned in here because I wasn’t entirely sure at first if you were supposed to be sympathetic to him or not. My red flags went up immediately, “wow this guy sucks”, but he was still portrayed neutrally or even a little sympathetically. But, the more glaring “wtf” character attributes showed up later to bring the message home that this guy is a total bag of dicks that you’re not supposed to like. I found myself rooting for a core group of characters and not all of them made it, but that’s to be expected. I think my two favorite characters were Lisa and the old lady, I feel bad but I’m blanking on her name.
One of my bigger issues with the book is the reactions and the emotional capacity for many of the characters was stunted. We have characters taunting a t-rex, people thinking it would be great if they could just stay in the Cretaceous period, and a whole lot of behaviors I wouldn’t expect to see in this situation. That said, I don’t know how entertaining it would be to write about a woman who totally disconnects from her body and lays under a bush and cries until something finds her and eats her. That’s me, y’all. Which brings about the quote, Are you not entertained?!!?! Yeah, I mean dinosaurs eating people is fairly entertaining — look at the box office numbers for Jurassic Park.
There is no shying away from blood and graphic violence. Often times the person dying does so ‘on page’ with the character aware they’ve been decapitated or their legs are now attached to their torso. That’s not going to appeal to everyone, but it didn’t bother me. The writing was very fast, there was always something going on and the book itself isn’t that long. I think Goodreads has it at about 200 pages, combine that with audio and I flew through this in a sitting. As always, Nick Podehl was a master of his craft.
This book isn’t trying to be a masterpiece of world building. It self acknowledges that time travel is fucked up and confusing and does attempt to close loops and make things make sense. The most improbable thing being the lab above a coffee shop in Denver LOL. Author is from Colorado, so that’s probably why he picked that area. It was fun, honestly. I think for someone looking for something like Jurassic Park this could scratch that itch.
- Plot: 8/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 9/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 13/15
- Originality: 8/15
- Enjoyment: 6/10
Final Score: 65/100