Book Review: Apparent Horizon

This book defied my expectations, being a strange existential character study with thriller mixed in, all grounded by a touch of sci-fi. It was very cynical, but I still enjoyed it. It took a simple concept and ran with it in a way that I wasn’t expecting at all.

The premise of the book is that Micheal finds out that the world is going to end, the night before his best friends wedding. The book develops from there, as he struggles with the morals of telling other people about this, as well as what to do with his limited remaining time.

Michael is a likable enough character as the book starts, but I struggle to continue to root for him as the book continues due to some of the choices he makes. Patrick Morgan uses him to paint a very pessimistic view of humanity in my opinion, which fundamentally clashes with my own world view. However, he does a good job of instilling a sense of agency in Michael, and of making us feel sorry for him. His emotions are clearly in conflict, and the deep exploration of this makes up the character study part of the novel.

Morgan’s cynical approach to characters doesn’t end with Michael however. His best friend, Drew, is a nasty piece of work whom I despised right from the onset. It felt strange that Michael was such good friends with someone who didn’t have a selfless bone in his body however. Drew’s actions never seem out of place, as horrible as he may be, and that was a real strength of the book. All the characters the author created followed this pattern.

The plot was very depressing overall. There was very few feel good moments, and those that occurred were often the outcome of Pyrrhic victories. However, it was well thought out, and the final twist of the book was unexpected for the most part, and allows the whole book to be viewed in a new light.

The pacing of the novel was unorthodox to say the least. It swung from fast and furious action to pages of slow pondering about the meaning of life. Yet, to my surprise, I found I really liked the effect this created. It certainly fit with how Michael progressed as a character. However, I thought the first chapter was kind of irrelevant to the rest of the book, and can also see how this pacing might put some people off.

For a debut novel, Morgan’s writing style is polished. I found it flowed extremely well, and never distracted from the action at hand. I wouldn’t say it was exceptionally unique, but was good thriller writing. It was also well edited.

I give it a 5 out of 7. As mentioned above, I found it hard to connect with Michael after a while, but I think this was more personal preference than anything else. I feel like this book definitely has an audience who will fully appreciate it, and I wasn’t it. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked it, but there were some element that didn’t sit well by the end. If it does appeal to you though, I’d encourage you to pick it up, since I feel it has the potential to be profound to the right person.

Thanks to both Rosie and Patrick Morgan for providing me with a free copy

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