Seventeen, Published by Creative Cover Art, is a fictional tale of two sisters having to survive in a suddenly vastly different world, in e-book by Suzanne Lowe.

A plane crash in Japan lets loose contaminants that gradually spread throughout the world and become known as the KV virus. It strangely appears to affect only adults, causing a terrible death. Upon the epidemic’s arrival in Australia, many flee the cities including the close friends of sixteen year old Lexi and her 12-year-old sister, Hadley in Perth. Their parents decide to stay in their home but also succumb and are removed by persons in contagious guard suits. No one comes to do anything about the two children and gradually they adjust until thieves invade. They decide to leave for a smaller town. Their parents’ automobile has been stolen, but their neighbors’ older car still works and has petrol sufficient to reach their destination. Since they also are dead, the two girls take the car and begin their journey. They meet another young boy along the way, take him along and just before sundown reach the small town of Jasper’s Bay. This town retains their electricity because it is a model community that had established a complete and well-functioning system of solar power. The town is inhabited only by children and is run by the eldest of them, Elisha and Ethan Mathews who were the children of the town’s Anglican priest. They are given permission to stay and matters begin to settle into place until Broc, a young bully type and his gang from outside start to upgrade attacks on the town’s children. Problems escalate further when a mutant version of the virus appears that first produces a noticeable rash on the arms and legs and is followed by increasingly uncontrollable rage and is reported as beginning to attack children when they reach seventeen. Elisha is the first to become infected and is forced from the community because of her resultant activity. Ethan, although her twin, seems immune. He is devastated however, and takes to drink. Further problems ensue to threaten the town’s already shaky survival structure when Kevin, one of the young siblings of Zac, the eldest son running the nearby only productive farm, deserts to join Broc and his gang creating devastating destruction to the town’s infrastructure. Eventually, the young town dwellers band together to fight the invaders and some order is reestablished with Lexi taking charge but as she turns seventeen, the question surfaces as to whether she will be immune or if she too will succumb.

Discussion: The author states “I wanted to write a story for young adults that featured two sisters having to survive in a world that was suddenly vastly different from one they had grown up in. One without adults or any rules. This was a scenario that my own two teenage daughters would often discuss and theorize about at the dinner table. I wanted to set the story in Australia, somewhere that is quite isolated and a unique setting for most dystopian stories.” The statement speaks for itself and describes exactly what was intended and what has been accomplished. As an aside, the activity of the bully Brock and his gang appear to be pictured at an appropriate level for the age group. Some further editing might have been helpful for any more mature readers, but generally the tale appears to follow the purported thought lines of her targeted audience.

5* Fascinating plot, setting and presentation for target audience.

Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices, An Isaac Blaze Thriller, e-book written/published by Axel Cruise.

Plot: The story opens with Isaac handcuffed to a table after being captured by a group dressed as Federal officers, none of whom display badges however. He believed they were the same persons he has eluded in Rome, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Las Vegas only to be caught here in Cairo, IL. The interrogation is begun by rather well-dressed, multiple doctorate degree recipient from MIT Adrian Hays who establishes the fact that Isaac has an intellect of true genius proportions by asking mathematical questions, and having associate Peter verify immediately by computer. Parenthetically, his knowledge extends beyond the usual range of subjects/conditions permitting him to be highly resourceful and extremely capable physically as well. He even exudes an amount of charisma. As Hays points out, Isaac unfortunately, rather than being a boon to society is “A man whose file implicates him in over three hundred felonies. And a man whose file concludes is unpredictable, unreasonable, and without any clear set of principles, intentions, motivations, beliefs, moralities or allegiances, which, in combination with his high intellect and proclivity toward provocation, means he must not be engaged lightly and must be considered dangerous at all times.” Parenthetically he also is accompanied constantly by the female and male voices within his head with whom he constantly converses, especially with respect to decision making. Hays is interrupted when Isabella, a lovely woman with disturbingly penetrating blue eyes enters the interrogation room. After killing all personnel occupying the relatively sparsely populated building, she has entered with one of the persons prominent in Isaac’s detention whom she has pistol whipped and then kills after saying she had “instructions to make this hurt”. She then kills Peter and asks Hays a question. He replies with the one word “Shanghai” after which she kills him as well. Isaac recognizes her as one of “Harriet Granger’s extremely well trained girls, they converse, and she departs leaving him at the table and chair to which he had been cuffed. He uses his unusual knowledge and expertise to escape. From this explosive introduction the reader is taken on a fast moving, convoluted journey where he meets a number of unusual people and fights various members of CIA’s highly secret and totally deniable Special Activities Division (SAD), high level politicians, governmental agents, agents of only partially explained organizations at varying levels and a rogue operation that had begun as a project initiated in 1945 in the aftermath of WW II. Its mission had been based on a student’s PhD thesis with respect to controlling the human mind beyond the changes suggested by hypnosis. The clandestine group proceeded to develop advanced investigative methods to discover whether human individuals could be controlled mentally and to what extent. The project got ‘out-of-hand’ and supposedly was abandoned, but a rogue group apparently had picked it up and continued with use of drastic measures and disastrous results. The often violent activity continues until ultimately the reader finds the meaning of the initials CT, MK-ULTRA and some others and is provided with an ending that almost cries for, and deserves, the next instalment in Isaac’s life.

Discussion/Conclusion: The story is convoluted, fill of minor mysteries, only some of which are solved, similarly mysterious characters about whom even a few more details would be beneficially enjoyable and a reader may vaguely sense that his/her more rational self is treading a fine line. However, generally speaking, the author has provided a well-written, rousing, high octane thriller that if read fast and with total concentration on the action, will provide a most enjoyable tale that will project you happily into the next volume.

4* Fascinating high octane thriller with minor flaws that will affect few readers.