Ocean of Fear by Helen Hanson



This techno thriller has a great story premise, but there’s too much that needs correction before any serious, or critical reader can finish it without scratching their head.

The author often uses words or expressions that are just off the mark.
Like crank on instead of crank up. He wended his way (really?) and putted up (eh? I have no idea what verb this is supposed to be, but the author uses is on more than one occasion to convey movement, however to putt is a golf term and has nothing to do with travelling at any speed) the Empire Grade.
It gets even weirder. Bikes and backpacks bumped uphill on their own. There is the closing of the sun (sunset). She gives Lidocaine (which should not be written with a capital since it is not a proper noun) time to make magic. Just a few examples.

But then there’s the unbelievable things, things that make you think, “Hold on.” Like the fact a character needs to chirp (?) his car alarm and trail the sound to find his ride. Can’t he remember where he parked his car? Or silence spontaneously followed news, but the listeners are already silent while listening to the recap. However the news brought them back to discussion. Eh? As far as I’ve read there was no discussion, one told his version of the events and the others listened, in silence. But anyway then Baxter continued with the story. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t interrupted in the first place.

Then there is the matter of punctuation and choice of words that is often off and combined with an overuse of the word that. To be honest more than once I thought there was a funny choice of words like when the mc stretched out a quaking hand. Why use fancy words to try and show me his hands trembled?

But then the story got me and lost me again when inconsistencies kept popping up such as, without going into detail, a person being with someone at one point and then a witness saying she hasn’t seen that person for a while. The witness is an unimportant character and has no reason to lie. After fifty minutes of testing they stop the test, yet a few paragraphs later it’s suddenly turned into two hours of testing. Which was the original plan, but like mentioned the test was broken of after fifty minutes.
And later on a character leaves on a very silent boat only to suddenly be back waiting for another at a rowboat, one the rescue team had no prior knowledge of. However a chapter later it is made to seem as if it had been the plan al along. It is plot hole repair at its worse.

Plus the occasional tense shift and usage of filters pulled me out off the story.

Yet, the novel as a whole was compelling enough to want to know more, so I kept reading. Like I said, great story premise, enough tension, at moments very well written, if only there hadn’t been the separate issues that could have been solved before publication. I suspect another round of editing by a pro would have made this novel shine like it should have.

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