From the blurb, Second Chance comes across as a thriller, but the accompanying reviews reveal it’s more than that – set in a dystopian near-future, it incorporates science fiction and political intrigue. To be fair, this is not my immediate go-to kind of book, but the concept was intriguing.
I won’t relate any of the storyline here – it’s covered sufficiently elsewhere - but the writing and presentation are worth commenting on.
Hearn’s style is very pared down, with little or no excess to distract you - yet he creates a sense of place and time. As I read any book, I play a kind of film reel in my head, and found myself playing Second Chance in the style of Blade Runner. To be fair, this is not a film I’m a fan of (sacrilege, I know), but the tone felt right here.
As a personal preference, I like things to be fairly neatly tied up at the end. This wasn’t the case here, though I didn’t feel cheated, in part because I know there’s a sequel. At the same time, I recognise some readers prefer to think for themselves more than I do.
I originally bought Second Chance last year, and understand that it has been updated since then to tidy up some “typos”. To be fair, compared to most e-books out there, I hardly noticed any errors, so can only assume the current version is ultra clean.
All in all, an enjoyable read. I can’t give it 5 stars, because I didn’t “love it”, which is more a reflection of my personal taste than the quality of the book. Nevertheless, I liked it enough to want to read Absent Souls.
This is a book I discovered via the world of blogging and occasional mentions on various other social media. Set in a near dystopian future this is a multi-stranded thriller that combines elements of science fiction with political intrigue, abduction and murder, all set against the murky backdrop of big business and globalisation. Mixed in amongst the plot we have a pretty young researcher who has gone missing, a newly elected politician trying to make a difference to the world she lives in, and some highly sensitive research into cloning and life extension, all playing a part in a world that is post major political and climatic upheaval. What makes this book especially believable is that much of the technology and the political landscape can all be seen in the world we live in today, albeit in embryonic form: Google’s driverless cars and data glasses, online polling, attempts to connect the entire world via the internet, speculation about both the climate and political consequences of global warming… all these factors are more developed in the book, but clearly have their origins in the present.
There is a lot going on this book, and it would be easy for the reader to get confused were it not for the author’s clever writing style and technique; the book is divided into three parts with over fifty well defined chapters. Rather than trying to combine all the elements of the book in one go, different characters and elements are introduced in separate chapters. The story and part each character plays is told via these different chapters but with sufficient overlap and reference to the others to bring the story together as a whole thus making an otherwise complex plot surprisingly readable and easy to follow.
The dialogue is sharp and crisp, and used to good effect to bring out the character traits of the protagonists and to drive the story forward. I must admit it took me a couple of chapters to get a grip of the way the story was going but that’s nothing unusual in a book of this complexity. Throughout the book there are hints and references to the events and circumstances which led to the world in which the book is set but very little specific detail, and I think more attention to that aspect would have given the book and the characters a greater depth. I would also have liked a stronger epilogue tying up some of the loose ends but with two more books to follow it’s quite possible we’ll be learning a lot more of that in the future.
Overall this a thoroughly believable glimpse into a very possible future that might well be nearer than we realise. This was a fascinating and entertaining read that pushed all the right buttons for me, and I shall certainly be reading and reviewing book two of this trilogy. .
We self-published authors are a happy and largely supportive community. I found Hearn’s blog earlier this year and seeing he had a book just out, I was intrigued enough by the premise to offer to review it.
The plot is tantalising if you like your science fiction with a dash of thrills with some niche ideas to get you thinking. This story about a missing woman and the plot to unravel her disappearance (was she murdered? if so, where is the body? Was she abducted? If so, why? Who has her?) while four people with vastly different backgrounds get caught up in the case. This is right up my street blending great science fiction with gritty ITV style mid-week drama (msot definitely not a bad thing!)
What at first seems a simple case of a disappearance soon becomes far more complex. It is books like this that demonstrate why self publishing is largely a good thing – the unconventional, the conceptual, the niche interests are all areas that a lot of publishers wouldn’t take a chance on. I admit I have read some poor quality work but I have also read some absolutely cracking reads. This definitely falls into the latter.
Conceptual science fiction is not everybody’s cup of tea, even after Inception but at least it proved that big ideas can be popular mainstream works. I am partial to conceptual science fiction myself and can always appreciate a great idea. This is certainly a great idea and Hearn has blended concept with character and plot rather nicely without being bogged down in it’s own complexity or coming across as elitist – something that can put a lot of people off “harder” science fiction. The characters are well rounded and in that, the balance is well struck – great job there!
The only real complaint I have is that there has been some global event prior to the story opening that has changed our world forever. It is not entirely clear what it is, or if it is explained then it is a remark made in passing. It is not vital to the plot but it is always good to know these things.
I discovered this author’s blog prior to his novel and admired his unusual style of writing. This novel is no exception. This is a multi-viewpoint story so tells the story from the perspective of four different characters: a politician, an investigator, an information cleanser (someone who searches the internet and deletes any unsuitable information), and a science technician. The story had an interesting premise, set in a futuristic world with scientific research taking a lot of worryingly advanced steps. The author seems to have researched a lot of detail making it very realistic. On the night the politician is elected, a university student goes missing, an event that connects the main characters. It is not a light-hearted thriller! Suspense, drama, politics, weird science and odd incidents all add to this dramatic story. I did feel the characters could be explored/ explained a little more and think Hearn has a lot more story to tell with the characters in his future books. The reader did get glimpses of the characters pasts, the futuristic present and also a further uncertain future. At which stage does science go too far and will those at the top cover it up? This book captures your interest in a particularly bizarre setting. These books will appeal to fans of George Oswell; dark, twisted and gritty storylines with plenty of action (and the odd bit of compassion) to keep the reader going. Looking forward to future reads from this author.
Dylan Hearn has taken on a difficult task in writing this complex, near-future thriller, but for the most part he has succeeded admirably in his goal. Second Chance is a compulsively readable novel, which engages with some knotty political and philosophical issues while delivering a riveting plot arising from the interactions between a set of well-realised characters. The milieu Hearn has created feels lived-in, and the technologies that enable it are likewise credible. My quibbles with the book are fairly minor. I'd like to have known more about the world-changing revolution that precedes events in the book, as I found it somewhat hard to believe. Also the ending didn't quite wrap up enough of the plot strands to totally satisfy me. No doubt these strands will be picked up and developed further in the next book in the series, which I will definitely want to read. Overall this is a highly entertaining and thought-provoking first novel, which fully deserves a 4* rating. I've no doubt it will be succeeded by even better books by this talented writer. Recommended.
Dylan has created a nuanced complex future world where little as it seems. One earnest politician says early on how he learned not to trust anyone. It becomes clear that is true of most in this dystopian future world. I'm not usually a fan of future fiction because it is often easy to disagree with the world the author has created but this one doesn't strain credibility. The big picture is well conceived - climate change disaster leading to a new world order - and the daily minutiae neatly put together. As the main characters stories grow and intersect the reader is drawn forward to a cleverly disguised reveal. It is not even clear if the ending is one of hope or despair but there's enough to want round two. Perhaps on the negative side I didn't initially buy why Steph and Sian made such a big thing of the girl's disappearance. It seemed to pop out rather than being driven by political expediency. I'd certainly recommend it and look forward to the film as it seems made for a Hollywood blockbuster.
Second chance was one of the first self-published novels that I read. The biggest compliment I can pay Hearn is that the quality of his writing is so high, you can't tell whether this book was published the traditional or self-published route.
Hearn's style of bringing in characters at various times aids in the flow of the story and keeps you gripped throughout. I especially liked the characters of Stephanie and Nico, I found I could relate to them. Stephanie's character especially seemed to grow from the young and cocky politician to a troubled and reflective person wanting to change the world.
The story is left delicately poised for the sequel, which I have purchased. Can't wait to dive into it!
An excellent story which compelled me to keep reading. Set in a very scary but believable future world, this is a top class political thriller with enough action, twists and turns and excitement to keep the reader engrossed.
Often the stories can get lost in the politics and bog the reader down, but not so with this one.
Perhaps some of the characters were a little bit obvious but this in no way detracted from the story line. A thoroughly good read and I would recommend to anyone who likes a good, well paced thriller.
This is a remarkable debut novel from Dylan S Hearn and he is sure to go from strength to strength. I eagerly await the next one
The premise behind this book is one that will appeal to most people – is there a chance to live on after death? Often, I read sci-fi novels with interesting concepts only to be let down by unappealing characters or overly complex plots. Not so in this case. The author has skilfully woven together the stories of likeable characters in a future that is utterly convincing. At the same time, this is a well-paced story with the right blend of plot development and thought-provoking detail regarding politics and neuroscience. As plot twists were revealed, I found it hard to put down and read the last third in one sitting. I look forward to reading more from this author.
This was an excellent story and despite its complexity it held together very well. Characterisation was strong and the plot sustained a good pace. Given the futuristic nature of the story it would have been easy to have overstepped the mark on technology development, but the author has dealt with it well. In short it was easily believable. The only criticism was that the book needed tighter editing in places, but this did not derail the overall excellent competence of the writing. This is clearly an author to keep track of and given the ending it looks like a follow-up is on the way. I look forward to it