Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: 'Flashback' by Simon Rose

‘Max clearly remembered everything, both in the present and the past.’

Canadian author Simon Rose is an instructor for adults with the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University and offers a variety of in-person and online workshops for both children and adults. Not only doe he offer teaching and coaching for writers but he also is a successful author – especially for children’s and YA books. FLASHBACK is book one in this Flashback series – a trilogy (so far) of time travel science fiction novels meant to stimulate the imagination of youngsters to explore not only literature but scientific possibilities that may just become realities in their lifetime.

With the aid of very fine cover art by Wiktoria Goc, Simon enters his beguiling new world with a shrewd sense of suspense: ‘“Are the restraints tight enough?” “Yes, of course they are. I told you, I know what I’m doing.” “Now keep still, David, this won’t hurt a bit.” The twisted smile on the doctor’s face told a far different story. Max struggled against the bonds securing him to the operating table as the old man’s hand moved closer. Max clearly saw the hypodermic, the needle now only inches from his eye. The younger man with the long blonde hair and pale blue eyes grinned, as Max emitted a scream that he was certain no one would ever hear. “You okay, Max?” Jeff asked. “You don’t look so good.” Max felt dizzy and disoriented, having to rest his hand on the taller headstone to steady himself. Max and Jeff had gone to grab some pizza that afternoon. It was the start of summer vacation and Jeff had to stop and buy some flowers then meet his grandmother at Queen’s Park Cemetery. Jeff’s grandfather had passed away about six weeks earlier and his grandmother still liked to go to pay her respects and freshen the flowers beside the grave. The boys had just been chatting to Mrs. McNally and Max had stepped away to give the two family members a few moments of privacy. He was standing by a tall elaborate headstone mounted on a marble pedestal, belonging to someone called Jonathan Dexter. There was a smaller headstone beside the pedestal. Before Max could read the name, his hand brushed the edge of the smaller gravestone. Disconnected, random images had suddenly flashed across his mind, culminating in the terrifying scene with the needle. “I don’t feel so good either,” admitted Max, running his fingers through his light brown hair and rubbing the back of his neck. “Did you hit your head or something?” Jeff asked. “I don’t think so,” replied Max, “but now I have this splitting headache.” “Are you sure you’re okay, Max?” asked Mrs. McNally, with an expression of concern. “Yeah, I think so,” said Max, forcing a smile, although his head was truly pounding, and it must have shown in his face.‘

And so we enter the world of Max, well described in the book’s synopsis – ‘A visit to the cemetery, a brush against a strange headstone, and Max’s life is changed. He experiences flashbacks of a life that isn’t his, from a time before he was born. Some of the memories are pleasant, some are . . . disturbing. Max also sees a boy that no-one else can. He reveals to Max twenty-year-old secrets, secrets that someone will go to deadly lengths to keep concealed. To right a tragic wrong, Max must leap into his new friend’s past, not knowing how his actions will affect his own reality.’
A fine start for a story that is to be a series. Simon has the genre down pat! 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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