I was already a Mark Carver fan after reading Indelible, which I reviewed here, but I have to say I enjoy Beast even better. It’s not trying to say nearly as much as the other book, but it succeeds in being more entertaining.
AUTHOR: Mark Carver with Michael Anatra
GENRE: Disaster thriller
Kyle barely survived an explosion on his last oil rig, but he’s determined to go on another to get they money he needs for his wife’s medical treatment. And not just any oil rig, but the Beast, the largest rig ever made.
But even the Beast is a bath toy to Mother Nature. When a storm hits and the crew makes one tiny mistake, everything that can go wrong does. Explosions and flying metal, icy waters laced with oily fire, and one man’s frantic mission to get home to his girls, bringing as many people with him as he can.
Carver brings along Michael Anatra, who according to the back of the book was an oil worker himself, so the book oozes authenticity like…well, oil. While the terminology can get confusing, you still get a good sense of what’s going on, that the authors really know how an oil rig looks and works, and how to maneuver a disaster.
See that’s the trick with disaster thrillers: maneuvering the events. Knowing what can go wrong, how, where, and then orchestrating it. Kyle’s fight for survival brings us from the top of the rig, down into the belly, all the way to the legs, and back to the top as he limps from one catastrophe to the next. That means more excitement, less repetition.
It’s a gripping book, and I’m surprised how fast I went through it. Tension mounts as the situation goes from bad to worse and tempers flare between frazzled oil workers, and you wonder which characters will live and which will die.
Perhaps the most interesting point was the ending. While a careful reader can see a possible outcome, I didn’t think Carver and Anatra would actually go that route, but it’s set up well enough that it makes sense and adds to the book’s memorability.
WHAT NEEDED WORK
Honestly, not much. Like I said, the technical details will quickly lose the average reader, but you get the gist. A derrick hand works on a derrick, which is really, really tall and scary. And so forth.
The only reason I don’t give this book a rating higher than 8/10 is that it’s not aiming any higher than that (not on my scale, at least). It doesn’t want to be the next Great Gatsby; it’s more in line with a fun popcorn flick. Characters and plot lines are relatively basic, but not flawed in any great way.
And that’s not actually a problem in my book, as long as it accomplishes what it sets out.
FINAL VERDICT: 8/10–Worth buying.
Beast is a tense, exciting, and surprisingly moving read. I’m glad I own it and you will be glad you read it.
CONTENT RATING: PG-13
Sexuality: 6/10–A husband and wife have sex. Some mildly graphic moments, but much of it is pertinent to the wife’s breast cancer. Several working men make crass comments.
Violence: 7/10–Frequent action violence, and some of the carnage is cringe-worthy, but nothing too terrible.
Language: 6/10–Mild swearing throughout, several lewd comments.
Substances: 1/10–References to beer and smoking.
Mature Themes: 2/10–Talks of breast cancer.
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