- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 2789 KB
- Print Length: 144 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Free House Studios Ltd; First Edition edition (29 Oct. 2014)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00P0USSEA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,474,223 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Ben Brown's Flying Machine Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The story begins right in the middle of the action. The crew of the first manned spaceship to Mars has vanished, but the CEV module that they were in crashes into a pasture on Ben Brown's farm. The CEV is not without a passenger, however, it contains an old man who is dying. Upon the old man's last breath, ancient words are spoken to Ben Brown that change his life forever.
After the crash, Ben is ridiculed by classmates after being accused of lying about the old man on the spaceship as there was no indication that a being was on the craft. Ben has to endure the backlash. But, when he takes his SAT exam shortly thereafter, he gets a perfect score on the test. This changes the direction of his life as he is taken under the wing of Dr. Bradshaw and given a full scholarship to college.
As the story proceeds, Ben finds that he now has knowledge of things he did not know before his encounter with the spaceship and the old man. Ben can now understand cuneiform and complex scientific theories. With this new found knowledge, Ben is compelled to build a "flying machine" and enters the device into a science fair. His contraption brings him fame and fortune, but Ben soon discovers that the machine is part of a bigger plan for him to fly to another planet - the planet where the old man in the CEV came from - and to find out what really happened to the crew of the CEV.
For a short read, this was entertaining, exciting and definitely worth the price of admission. I can ultimately see it as a movie and would love to see it on the big screen.
Well done, Mr. Thorp.
Some literary delights promise it all! Action, adventure, spirituality, deep characterization, coming-of-age, science fiction, this week’s meal seeks to deliver all of that and more to its readers. It’s a tall order for any book to deliver on, but it’s far from impossible! Let us break out the forks and knives to cut into this layer cake of story and find out!
Before we cut in, let’s recite the Starving Review creed:
I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
There is some good, quality cooking here so, before I pull out the really sharp knives, let’s delve into these positive flavors first. We really have to look at Ben Brown as three distinct pieces, because it honestly feels like three different books (more on this below). If you look at each of these segments, they seem to be solid pieces on their own. The first segment has a wonderful, science fiction/fairy tale feel. The second segment makes for an interesting, if badly paced, alien adventure akin to Stargate, and the last segment is a surprisingly stark take on alien invasions, with a large dollop of Independence Day.
Though very, very roughly sketched-out, there’s nothing wrong with the characterization of the story. However, that being said, there’s not much done right, as all the characters feel very flat. We learn little about any of them, even the titular Ben Brown himself, outside of a few choice bits of characterization. Yes, what is shown to us is flavorful, but there is not much substance to the tastes. I believe Mr. Thorp’s intent is to let the character’s actions speak entirely for them, offering little internal insights to even the PoV characters, and that is admirable. However, there isn’t enough of it in such a short work to rely on that, especially with the expanse of scope and the rapid shifts of setting and tone.
Let’s tackle the biggest issue: the layer cake set-up of the plot. There are three distinct layers of this cake, three distinct plot sections. Each one has a substantial shift in tone, pacing, and plot. Though they all follow one after the other to make the final recipe, each layer really feels like it should have been its own novel. Again, this is a fairly short work, so each separate leg of the overall adventure feels extremely rushed and hard to follow because of that horrible pacing.
What complicates this even more is the chef’s decision to add extra spice to some parts of the story while skimping on others. There are some dense chunks of technical exposition in places, or intense focus on a character’s specific actions in a routine or technical section, while the creamy, flavorful bits of character development and, especially, world building in the later sections is left sparse and thin. For a treat intended for young adults, focusing vital scenes on the technical jargon and extensive use of acronyms and specific terms, even if they are real-world ones, instead of the characters, world building, and action do not help.
The last critical issue I found in the recipe is the problematic foreshadowing. There are elements that come up that literally are smacked into the reader’s face. Sudden reveals, vital plot points that come up only in hindsight, and the like leave for jarring transitions and head-scratching moments. Some of these are very scantly foreshadowed. Most don’t even have a hint of flavor in the mix before they come out in the recipe. It’s all right, certainly, to have some secrets to reveal. The problem is that if there is no hint at all, no foreshadowing, not even a hint of a reveal to come, especially when it is something the PoV character knows all about ahead of time, it makes the entire situation very jarring on the readers, stretching the bounds of disbelief to the snapping point.
So, to put it all together, Ben Brown’s Flying Machine promises a vast variety of flavors and delivers, but only in very small portions with jarring changes at every turn. There is some real promise in this book, but it really needs a few more revisions and, hopefully, a split into three books, with each major story section properly expanded to do them justice.
FINAL VERDICT: ** (A vast variety of flavors, but only in very small portions with jarring, puzzling changes at every turn!)
The story revolves around the titular protagonist Benjamin Brown, a senior in high school who is not exactly one of the popular kids. Bullied by the football team, Ben is a stoic young man who has no idea what is about to transpire in his life. His helicopter mother is all he has left of his family, for his father either went missing or is dead due to a space exploration mission.
We first meet Benjamin late at night as an CEV (a space exploration vehicle) hurtles towards the Earth, making impact in Benjamin’s back yard; a farm! The farm is a mess due to the crash, and a strange man emerges from the wreckage. The man extends his hand to Ben who sees the crash site first, and gives him powers reminiscent of John Travolta in the movie “Phenomenon”.
In all of that commotion, as well as the military and media frenzy, Benjamin’s IQ jumps several levels, making him a prodigy: a perfect SAT score, and vast knowledge of Astrophysics to the point of speaking on things he NEVER knew were real and/or theoretical. On top of that, he achieves the rank of Master Builder as he plugs away in the barn on his project. Benjamin Brown’s life will change from here on out, but is it for the better?
These 84 pages makes for a quick read. In saying this, it CAN be a long read due to some language that may be confusing to a young adult population and target audience. Despite knowing many of the complicated words used within the covers of this book, some people may need a dictionary or a thesaurus to keep up with this read despite there being a glossary.
The story is a bit slow-paced at the start, as well as here and there in the story. Sadly, Benjamin Brown almost lost me due to the slow moving nature. Thankfully, the sci-fi theme kept me intrigued enough to keep going.
Benjamin’s mother, although understandable in her concern, can be a bit much (especially for a teen): I love her concern for her baby and most likely last man and remnant of her husband. I can also understand that she is being the protective momma bear. For those who are smothered, or have been smothered by ANY parent, they can feel and recall times where their parent or parents did such a thing.
Sentence structure is not bad at all. As I have mentioned earlier, simpler language will keep the readers amused and intrigued.
A dictionary or thesaurus being needed for Ben Brown’s Flying Machine does raise concern, yet it does not take away from the story itself. This is a good read for the science lover who happens to enjoy adventure. Don’t pass it up, however: Ben Brown JUST MIGHT grow on you.
This was a highly detail-oriented story. I visualized what was going on in every scene without ever consciously thinking about what specific room or person might look like because they were sketched out so well. What made it even more interesting is that the author used almost every sense in order to present his universe to the readers. I didn’t only see what was happening, I felt like I could smell, hear and feel it as well.
With that being said, too much time was spent describing these moments for a novella of this size. This was especially true during the first chapter as it was full of technical descriptions that took a while to understand. There would have been plenty of room to take these pauses in something full-length, but it slows down the plot too much in shorter works. As intrigued as I was by the premise, I had a hard time getting into Ben’s adventures at first because I was so distracted by everything else that was going on.
This tale had some thought-provoking things to say about why people believe harmful stuff and what happens when you encourage them to approach their beliefs from other perspectives. I wasn’t expecting to encounter such philosophical questions in a young adult novel, but the narrator made me think about other ways to approach such a potentially sensitive topic. It was one of my favorite things about Ben’s adventures.
Ben is friendly, courteous, loving, and extremely intelligent. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on a character’s best side, but it isn’t easy to identify with a protagonist who doesn’t appear to have any real flaws. Even someone as goodnatured as Ben struggles with something. I would have been quite interested to discover what it is that he finds challenging in life.
The relationship between Ben and his mom made me smile. It was nice to see such a tight bond between two family members who have such wildly different personalities and interests. They not only love each other, they genuinely seem to like one another as well. That’s not something I see regularly in the young adult genre, so it was refreshing to come across it here.
I chose the 12+ age recommendation due to violent content. It may be appropriate for some readers who are slightly younger, but I’d strongly suggest pre-screening this book to anyone who is thinking about doing this.
Ben Brown’s Flying Machine is a good choice for anyone who is fascinated by space exploration.
originally posted at long and short reviews
The story begins as Ben, the achingly vulnerable protagonist, loses his father at a young age. He has inherited his father's penchant for invention, however, and it stands him in good stead when a NASA spacecraft, back from a mission to deep space, crashes in his wheatfield and disgorges an unlikely aged alien, who touches Ben and transmits the sum total of his alien knowledge -- which is far-advanced compared to anything on Earth -- to Ben in the blink of an eye.
Ben's newfound knowledge comes along just in time to save the heavily mortgaged farmstead, and Ben quickly becomes an international celebrity by building his incredible flying platform. The apparatus runs on a revolutionary drive system unheard of by Terran scientists and researchers, and Ben quickly makes plans to utilize his flying contraption to explore the vast reaches of uncharted space.
There's a love interest, of course, but the charming Maryann does not figure too heavily in the action -- just enough to keep it interesting.
Ben flies up into the stratosphere and well beyond, into a strange new galaxy peopled with giants, the Nephalim, supposedly descended from angels. They rule their empire with an iron fist and Ben is hard pressed to stay alive.
Here, to be honest, the plotline gets a little thin and the reader is required to proceed with a minimum of backstory. Somehow, a plot to invade Earth is getting underway just as Ben arrives and he must figure out a way to stop it, free some wretched slaves and still make it back to Earth unscathed.
It's a bit of a stretch, credibility-wise, but somehow, the author brings it off with the aplomb of an old-fashioned science fiction movie director from the Fifties. If you can suspend your disbelief and just go along for the wild ride, it's an enjoyable read.
One other item of note. The author is not from the United States, where the first half of the book is set. The reader -- if he's an American, like me -- keeps stumbling over words that just aren't used in the U.S., like kerb and cheeky and spanner. Not a big deal, but it got a bit awkward for me.
I give Ben Brown's Flying Machine four stars, mostly on the basis of sheer imagination.
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