Book Review – Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey

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★★★☆

Something about the cover of this book grabbed my attention as I trailed behind my boyfriend through Books a Million. As a less than avid reader, I wasn’t really planning on looking for a book on that trip. But I snatched up this book, started reading at the very beginning, and couldn’t put it down.

I stood in the middle of the store reading for about ten minutes, until he had what he came for and it was time to go. I decided to wait until I got home and see if it was one of the options I could download with an Amazon Prime account.

It was not. So, I paid up for the e-book, settled down, and read the entire book in about 3-4 hours. I knew it wouldn’t take long based upon how far I got reading it in the store, but another factor was the impossibility of setting this book down. It flows so smoothly from beginning to end, there’s not a point at which you can say, “This seems like a good stopping point.”

It’s the kind of book that can hold even my fickle attention.

There is just the right amount of comedy, pain, and drama to balance this novel. The unnamed protagonist suffers from PTSD after his years of military service, and has now been stationed on a space beacon. The beacons act as lighthouses, warning vessels in the vacuum of space of dangerous flying zones. By his own error, the protagonist allows his beacon to be compromised, and indirectly causes a massive crash.

You really get a feel for this poor fella as he deals with crushing loneliness and bouts of madness, but soon, a cast of new characters comes along –including Rocky, an imaginary friend/pet rock –a viciously affectionate space cat named Cricket, and Claire, the obligatory but well written love interest who is also stationed out in the abyss of space.

I should also add that a reader need not be well versed in science fiction, or even particularly interested in it, to enjoy this book.

The book won’t blow you away with its poignance, but it is a damn good read. I’ll be looking for more books by this author.

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