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Ascent: A Novel [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Jed Mercurio , Todd Parker McLaren
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Mar 2007

Yefgenii Yeremin is a flyer and he is a phantom.

In the Korean War, he is the legendary ace dubbed 'Ivan the Terrible', shooting down more American jets than any other pilot in history. But the Soviet Union's involvement in Korea must be kept secret, so Yefgenii is exiled to a remote Arctic base, his name unknown, his victories uncelebrated.

But in 1964, a man arrives from Moscow, from the Space Committee, in search of a volunteer prepared to sacrifice everything for his country...

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Library ed edition (13 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400133688
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400133680
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 17.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,551,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jed Mercurio is a novelist who regularly works in TV as a writer, producer and director. His books are Bodies (2002), Ascent (2007), American Adulterer (2009) and, for children, the Penguin Expedition (2003). He grew up in England and currently splits his work between London and Los Angeles.

Mercurio trained at the University of Birmingham Medical School and practised as a junior hospital doctor for three years. While still a medical student, he joined the Royal Air Force and received extensive flying training, with the intention of specialising in aviation medicine. Instead, after replying to an advertisement placed in the British Medical Journal, Mercurio detoured into writing the controversial, ground-breaking BBC medical drama Cardiac Arrest (under the pseudonym John MacUre). The show was a gritty and blackly comic expose of hospital life. Mercurio went from never having written a script to creating a primetime hit.

Next he created and scripted the 6-hour miniseries Invasion: Earth, a coproduction between the BBC and the US Sci-Fi Channel, followed by The Grimleys. The Grimleys was a rites-of-passage comedy set in the Midlands in the 1970s; starring Brian Conley, Amanda Holden and Noddy Holder, it ran for three series on ITV. As well as creating and writing the Grimleys, Mercurio directed seven episodes.

Mercurio returned to dark medical fiction with his first novel, Bodies, published by Jonathan Cape (2002). He adapted the novel for TV, winning the Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama Series of 2005. Bodies dealt unflinchingly with issues of negligence, cover-ups and whistleblowing. In December 2009 the Times ranked Bodies #9 TV Show of the Decade and in January 2010 it was ranked #20 Best TV Drama of All Time by the Guardian.

After writing a children's book, The Penguin Expedition, Mercurio's second novel, Ascent, was published by Jonathan Cape (UK) and Simon and Schuster (US) in 2007 and made the Guardian's list of "1000 Novels Everyone Must Read". Ascent tells the story of a fictional Soviet fighter pilot, later cosmonaut, set against the background of the Korean War and the Space Race. A graphic novelization of Ascent, illustrated by Wesley Robins, was published in 2011.

Mercurio wrote and directed a modern-day television film of Frankenstein, starring James Purefoy, Helen McCrory and Lindsay Duncan, and then adapted Chris Ryan's "Strike Back" into a successful series for Sky. His most recent television production, "Line of Duty", a police corruption drama series, was broadcast in 2012 to critical acclaim; the programme achieved the highest ratings for a BBC2 drama in ten years, and has been commissioned for a second series to be filmed in 2013.

Jed Mercurio's most recent novel for Cape and Simon & Schuster was American Adulterer, a fictionalization of President John F. Kennedy's personal life, published in Spring 2009.




Product Description

Review

"In moments of intense action, we're with this protagonist every inch of the way, through every thought, dive, ache, smell, itch, tast and gastric movement... vertiginously thrilling" (Observer)

"Hold on tight and enjoy the ride... Tremendous stuff" (Independent)

"Ascent is a page turning story of a man's ambition to be the very best. Based on real events and using real people, it places this fictitious character in a period when space itself was there for the taking. Beautifully written, it's a book that deserves to be read" (Angela Cooke Daily Express)

"A Russian version of The Right Stuff... Riveting" (Daily Telegraph)

"One of the most potent and unusual works of literary fiction I've read in years... Mercurio's Yefgenii is as real as anyone you've ever cared about. And care you will" (Michael Faber Guardian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A truly stunning novel - spare, powerful and ultimately awesome - Ascent will propel Jed Mercurio into the first rank of British novelists. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The praise is justified 19 Mar 2007
Format:Hardcover
I seldom buy hard-cover fiction at full price. Having said that, I made an exception as the reviews of "Ascent" that I've seen or heard were uniformly enthusiastic - not that uniformity of opinion is a guarantee of anything. I purchased "Cloud Atlas" on a similar impulse, having forgotten that I grew weary of science-fiction by the age of 16, which was some time ago. But I've always been a bit of an aviation enthusiast, even if falling some distance short of the anorak-y, so I stumped up the full cover price for "Ascent".

It's as good as the reviews suggested, written in a sparse and transparent style that's completely appropriate to its subject matter. Jed Mercurio's decision (what a name!) to use technical vocabulary and associated acronyms without recourse to footnotes, glossary or explanatory digression is a bold move which may irritate some readers, but which only adds authenticity to what is, in general terms, a very convincing story.

Which makes a couple of plot points stand out as all the more implausible. Firstly, during air combat in Korea a pilot is said to have been hit in the leg by a ".22" bullet from another aircraft: yet another occurrence in the venerable tradition of the "minor flesh wound"... I haven't checked this out but it seems more than unlikely that such ammunition, more suitable for use on rats at close range, has ever been used in aircraft weapons. In early WW2, even the eight .303 guns used on some British fighters were quickly seen to be underpowered.

The second implausibility is the "push" which the hero imparts to his colleague's fighter after it runs out of fuel. Well, maybe. It's one way of generating a bit of necessary thrust to the plot, but it sounds absurd to me.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ascent review 18 Mar 2007
Format:Hardcover
I was drawn to Ascent having read Jed Mercurio's rather brilliant first novel BODIES. I don't think I would have picked this book otherwise. I also saw NEWSNIGHT REVIEW where they did a huge rave and a great review in The Guardian.

Ascent surprised me in many ways. It is an incredible story - better even than Bodies and I read it in one sitting which I have never done before! It is a devasting story on so many levels but strangely up-lifting too. It should be on every book clubs' reading list and I am sure it will be one of those word-of-mouth award winners too.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The writer behind the brilliant "Cardiac Arrest" and "Bodies" shows here that he is more than a Robin Cook with grit. I had the feeling that Jed Mercurio might be a one-trick pony before I read this, but "Ascent" shows that the writer has breadth beyond expectations.

The book follows the career of Yefgenii Yeremin from bullied, abused Stalingrad orphan to pioneering cosmonaut via flying MIG15s in the Korean War. Yeremin spends his whole life achieving heroic feats but is always unrecognised due to the shadowy politics of Soviet Russia. He is everyman and nobody. A hero of his times yet utterly anonymous. His yearning for success in everything that he does is attempted merely as a challenge to himself. His actions right up to the lonely finale show that it is the deed that is important and not the recognition that goes with it. In a way this is a beautiful refutation of today's shallow instant celebrity culture. Whether Jed Mercurio meant this I don't know - but that's how it comes across to me.

The narrative is simply presented without complicating side plots making "Ascent" an easy and enjoyable read. It's style reminds me of anothe great book from late last year, Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It is a bleak portrait of human life, warts and all - I guess in that way it IS similar to "Bodies".

I'd highly recommend this book, it's a moving portrayal of one man's battle with his own demons to prove that he is the best. Great buy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sparse but hard-hitting 15 Sep 2011
By LOTHAR VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wasn't sure if I liked this book until I'd finished it. The art style is very muted and bare, and the text is sparse at best. This reflects the emptiness both of the main character and the bleak Siberian landscape, but it can also make it difficult to feel that you as a reader are engaging fully with the story. By the time you've reached the end, though, you will be totally connected and the constant sense of emptiness projected by the words and art serve to drive the sad end of the tale home perfectly. This is a graphic novel adaptation of a novel which I have never read, and I would not be surprised at all to hear that fans of the original book find this version lacking. I got the feeling that large portions, particularly from the protaganist's childhood, have been seriously glossed over or left out completely. Also, I am an avid reader of graphic novels and may be more forgiving of the medium than those who are new to it. I wouldn't recommend it as a first graphic novel, but for those who are comfortable with sequential art, there is a great deal to enjoy in this surprising book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stark and Atmospheric, Cold War Graphic Novel. 7 Sep 2011
By Bruce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am a big graphic novel fan, although usually my tastes have been for fantasy with a hint of realism, like Neil Gaiman's Sandman.

This is in some ways a fantasy, but it is strongly rooted in the real events of the second half of the 20th Century and the Cold War. What strikes you about this book, is that it is beautifully presented in hardback, but it portrays a bleak and stark world.

Ascent shows you what can be done with the graphic novel format, in terms of conveying an atmosphere that doesn't come from the words, which are quite clipped and functional - but rather with the scenes portrayed and the action presented, sometimes without commentary.

What we have is a grey world, only relieved by the minimal markings of a Mig Fighter plane in washed-out red. This is of course entirely fitting, as we know that the Soviet Union suffered the greatest losses at the end of WWII and the main character here is a complete orphan who has lost every family member and then suffers bullying at school.

No comment is made on these bare facts, but the illustrations elegantly portray a cruel world that is only made sense of, in the dog-eat-dog situation of the fighter pilot. The greys and drab browns show us the emotions that pervade Yefgennii's life and he is throughout, a ghost or phantom - who cannot be acknowledged or rewarded. All he gets are harder and harder missions.

If this all sounds bleak - then it is, in the way that many depictions of Russia or the Soviet Union tend to be, Ascent draws on the culture of Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn, but through pictures rather than words.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A SUPERB NOVEL OF PERSONAL & NATIONAL ASCENDANCY DURING THE SPACE RACE
Five STUNNING Stars! Author Jed Mercurio has created a great novel of flying, of edge-of-your-seat air battles, and of personal and nationalistic ascension aimed at space. Read more
Published 2 months ago by RBSProds
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Ties in real events in history with a fictitious (maybe!) explanation and makes you empathise with a person who at the time it is set would have been considered at the very least a... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr S Cresswell
3.0 out of 5 stars Ascent a book about war and what if?
I chose this rating as it is not a subject I enjoyed and I am only reading it as book club choice, however I wouldn`t choose it myself as it is clearly a mans book, although it is... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs.C.M.Nurse
3.0 out of 5 stars well written adaptation of the novel...but get the original!
Interesting marketing move...this book is being read and reviewed by non-graphic novel readers. Unfortunately, this means that most reviewers on here are not familiar with the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by M. W. Hatfield
5.0 out of 5 stars first man on the moon
Based on a novel this graphic novel is well worth grabbing. Artwork is more sketch than linear, good plot enough names to make you look at a time from Ivan POV.
Published 23 months ago by john harris
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak but rather moving
When reading this I had no prior knowledge of Jed Mercurio's work. I used to read a lot of graphic novels however and this looked interesting enough to give a try. Read more
Published on 4 Feb 2012 by K. Galvin
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately dreary
The general premise is that of a forgotten hero, whose exploits are secret and whose desire to be a hero ultimately pushes him towards greater sacrifice. Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2011 by David Burton
4.0 out of 5 stars An OK adaptation of a fantastic novel
This is a graphic novel adaptation of Jed Mercurio's magnificent `Ascent', the bleak story of an orphaned, bullied Soviet child Yefgenii Yeremin who ascends above all others in his... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by V. Warrington
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story retold in Graphic Novel form
The story of Yefgenii Yeremin is a sad one, but one that also has a sense of achievement and spirit that will stay with you. Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by Paul B
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated - but not what I expected at all.
I loved the Graphic Novel Artwork in this but the story was not what I expected at all.

A very sad story of a Russian orphan called Yefgenii Yeremin who suffer abuse as... Read more
Published on 18 Oct 2011 by I. Mcintosh
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