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Ascent Paperback – 7 Feb 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099468522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099468523
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

Book Description

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

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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 single-minded quest to be the best. Mercurio's novel takes us from the horror of a post-war Soviet orphanage, through Yefgenii's climb to acedom flying MiG-15's in the Korean war, his enforced, frozen exile to the Franz Joseph Archipelago, and finally to his haunting, lonely ascent to become the most famous man that no-one has ever heard of.

The original novel is a must-read. The graphic novel less so, due to a couple of issues. Firstly, it's always difficult to convey in a graphic novel any wordy story that hinges on bleak ideas - it's easy for the story to become `cartoonish'. This leads to the second problem, which is that the drawings by Wesley Robins don't really pull off the atmosphere of the original book.

Nonetheless, it's still a great story. This is not your typical graphic novel - after all, the `hero' is an empty shell of a man whose wife is referred to throughout the novel as `the widow', whose children have no name. You probably wouldn't want to give this to a child, and any adult should prefer the actual novel instead of the graphic version.

Nonetheless, this is still a startlingly cold and bleak tale.
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