Book Review – Orbit – John J Nance

A lucky winner is given a free ride on a commercial space flight but as soon as he arrives on orbit, bad things happen. Now trapped high above the Earth, one man writes his thoughts, feelings and epitaph, not knowing that the world below is reading every line.

As the author states at the start of the book. Orbit is unlike any of the previous books that John J Nance has written. The previous books were all airplane based and although I have read only a handful, they are all very entertaining and enjoyable, to the point that John’s name, along with any unread books have been added to the infamous Books To Buy list that I carry on my person at all times.

Yes, Orbit features someone who is in a plane like craft and who gets into trouble but it feels as if that is only the scenario, not what the book is about. At the very least, Orbit is a good science fiction (although not really) thriller about a man trapped in space and the attempts to rescue him as he faces up to the fact that he is going to die.  Take at face value, if Orbit was simply that, it would be a very enjoyable book, especially in the style that John J Nance writes which flows and conveys technical information about airplane and controls in an easy to understand way.

Orbit is much more than a sci fi thriller though. What it does is tell the story, almost literally, of Kip Dawson, father of four, married for the second time, and pharmaceuticals salesman. Kip writes his stories and memoirs and the reader gets caught up in story and for me at least, I found myself physically tense towards the end of the book. This is a thought provoking book, perhaps not in the style of Life of Pi, or for me, A Salty Piece of Land, but all the same, it made me think about my life and things that perhaps could be changed before it’s too late.

While Orbit is a departure from John J. Nance’s usual fare, it is only a departure in the same way that Harlan Coben’s books stopped being about Myron Bolitar and became stand along thrillers. It is not a decrease in quality, rather a change of direction, and one that is very successful. I have read several authors whose work, while I enjoy reading it, tends to follow the same plot, point by point. I don’t find that I have the enthusiasm for their work as I do for someone who is willing to gamble on a change of story. This said, I am very much looking forward to the next John J. Nance book to be released.

This is a great book, one of the best I have read this year so far. It captures the readers attention and holds it tight. The only downside for a reader who is new to John J. Nance is that most of his earlier books are either out of print or hard to find. Why I don’t know as I have never read one of his books that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy but there you go, it gives me very good reasons to go to book sales!

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