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Thrilling insight into dangers of genetic modification
This is a fantastic edge-of-your-seat thriller, that vaulted me upright from the first page, and kept me enthralled to the end. The carefully researched subject matter: both genetic engineering and what one can and can not do with a computer, are skillfully woven into the story in a way that is compelling and believable. The effective “roadie” of New Zealand makes a delightful backdrop for Kiwis and provides others with a beautifully sketched descriptions of back woods New Zealand. I can’t recommend this highly enough. I don’t re-read books, but I would happily go back to this to enjoy again the complexity of the story, nicely drawn characters, and fabulous scenery.
Robert creatives a real narrative momentum
By Craig Sisterton (Crimewatch)
This debut eco-thriller from a Kiwi journalist based in Southeast Asia is an engaging, helter-skelter tale that raises some thought-provoking concerns about how media coverage of ‘big issues’ can be massaged by businesses, governments, and interest groups.
Robert does a good job setting an early hook, with a whistleblower reaching out to an old acquaintance, with deadly consequences. The stakes are very high, with a big-money launch of a new ‘wonder’ seed on the near horizon. A lot of powerful people have an interest in the seed release going well, for a variety of reasons, so the idea that secret information has escaped the company’s clutches sets alarm bells ringing. Discreetly, behind closed doors. The end is seen as so important that the company’s trouble-shooter has no compunction using any means necessary, and easily getting the buy-in of various authorities as he hunts his prey.
There’s an awful lot to like about this eco-thriller.
In particular, Robert creates a real narrative momentum, a propulsive drive to the story, and does a very good job with characterisation and setting.
The players, across the spectrum from heroes to villains, have some nice depth and we understand why they see things the way they do. In such a high stakes, big threat thrillers, it’s easy for characters to become moving pieces, even caricatures, there to just serve the high concept plotline. But Roberts gives readers a little more, with some nuance and a few shades of grey.
Understandably, being a debut, there are some areas that Robert could look to improve in his future novels. The dialogue veers into info-dump and on-the-nose territory at times, with characters laying things out a little too obviously, or in ways that seem more designed to convey things to the readers rather than being natural or subtextual. The storyline has a lot of exciting incidents, and plenty happens to keep reader interest, but at times it seems a little linear; one then another then another.
Robert does a nice job with the New Zealand setting, taking readers into some smaller towns and rural/wilderness areas, not just cities. That strong sense of the environment plays well in what is a thriller centred on humanity’s at-times complicated relationship with the environment. Robert creates some adrenalin-packed moments, but also pricks readers minds, raising questions about the ways in which groups, powerful and impassioned, interact with authorities, the public, and the media.
Overall, I found THE ALO RELEASE to be a good read that shows Robert has plenty of promise as a thriller writer. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next. (4 stars)
Craig Sisterson writes features for leading publications in several countries. He has interviewed more than 150 crime writers, discussed crime writing at arts and literary festivals in Europe and Australasia, and on national radio, and is a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards and the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards.
By Karen (AustCrime blog)
There are a lot of thrillers these days using environmental issues as the potential threat to the world. It makes a lot of sense that screwing with the balance of nature has some interesting potential when it comes to the villain of the piece as it could be anybody, and the motive is nearly always a power / money grab which is extremely believable.
THE ALO RELEASE tackles the question of genetically modified seeds.
Combining as it does technology that is difficult to understand, high stakes corruption and media manipulation, with people behaving very badly, it’s the sort of scenario designed to raise the hair on the back of your neck instantly.
Characterisations on both the good and the bad side in this novel are pretty good – the likelihood of an every day small group being the only people able to circumvent disaster is believable, and the bad guys nicely menacing without resorting to over the top antics. Taking the action to New Zealand (the author’s home country) happens seamlessly and allows the author to intertwine some nice messaging about that country, to say nothing of a bit of a travelogue along the way.
The only downside is possibly that it does get a little too “here we go again” at points. Once everyone arrives in New Zealand there is a feeling of “new chapter” / “new challenge” that the good group must overcome which has a sense of repetition or expectedness to it that jars a little. A little too processional, it came across as a spot of over-egging in what is otherwise a darn good mix of character and action, place and time which works in an unexpected setting for a big world-wide threat set-up.
It’s great to see something as topical as genetic modification of food crops set in somewhere that’s not normally known as a big threat / big risk location. Cleverly done, THE ALO RELEASE is a thriller with a message at it’s heart, and well worth a read regardless of where you are in the world. (3 stars)
Hooked in seconds
Fast paced adventure through New Zealand
By Carole Shaw (Goodreads Review)
Thriller is right, can’t wait for the movie!
By Mike McManaway (Amazon Review)
Thrilling journey through the beauty of Aotearoa
By Neill O’Reilly (Amazon Review)
Once the story starts to unfold this is a book I did not want to put down. The story takes the reader on an thrilling journey through the beauty of Aotearoa layered with quirky characters, high tech intrigue and a powerful insight into Maori knowledge and history. Can’t wait for the next book by this author!
A Great Read
By Pamellia Smith (Michigan, US) Lazybookreviewer.com
Three main characters have bonded to fight the evils of genetic engineering, each with unique personalities that are different as night and day.
The story opens in California but soon moves to New Zealand. I’ve never read a novel set in New Zealand and I enjoyed taking this little trip there. We are introduced to several characters in this new country with many being quite colorful!
The protagonists and other characters are well developed and we learn a lot about keeping our planet safe. There are twists and turns that I did not see coming. Some victorious and some rather sad. The ending was well thought out and written.
The rivers, mountains, beaches, and scenery in general are described with such beautiful prose that I could almost imagine myself there.
We are taken to huts in the bush to snow in the mountains. Rivers and oceans must be lovely in this country. I’m not so sure about the cuisine of some of these out of the way places, but I might sacrifice to be part of this country’s beauty for just once in my life. I was not familiar with some of the New Zealand words, but this did not take away from the book for me.
I recommend this book to those of us who enjoy a fast-paced thriller set in a country with exotic beauty. (5 stars)
Read Pamellia Smith’s interview
Pace and attention to detail genuine and relentless
by Sierra James (Goodreads Review)
I had the great luck to get a copy of the Alo Release prior to release: its pace and attention to detail was genuine and relentless. I finished it over the course of a couple of days and I can highly recommend it as a thrilling page turner set in and around New Zealand. Well done Geoffrey! (5 stars)
Unlike anything I’ve read before from a NZ author
By Joris, Darlinghurst Australia (Goodreads Review)
It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a book as hard to put down as this one. It gives a very unique insight to New Zealand culture and painted a vivid picture of the landscape while keeping up the excitement right through to the end.
It opens in Los Angeles and quickly takes readers on an adventure throughout New Zealand. The characters are constantly pitted up against obstacles thrown at them which keep the adrenaline pumping but still keeping it very realistic for their situation. Though some characters took some getting used to, it ultimately adds to the book as they are that much more genuine than the typical characters in most thrillers.
A great book and quite unlike anything I’ve read before from a New Zealand author.
A unique and entertaining writing style
By Eva Pearse, New Zealand (Amazon Review)
Couldn’t put this book down. Robert has a unique and entertaining writing style that draws the reader right into the story, and his characters are so much more realistic and diverse than the typical thriller cliches.
As a Kiwi I loved his portrayal of New Zealand, but would also highly recommend to people who’ve never visited the country. The storyline has some real twists and surprises, with fast-paced action, comedy, and even a touch of romance. Don’t miss this read! (5 stars)
Made me want to go tramping (hiking) again
By Suzette Eastmond (Goodreads Review)
I loved this thriller set mostly in New Zealand. Made me want to go tramping (hiking) again. (5 stars)
Keep an eye on this author
By Steve Judson (Amazon Review)
This book is a very promising start for a new author. The action starts quickly and accelerates through the book. The tension remains high until almost the last page. The solving of difficult clues to uncover the truth behind The Alo Release is engaging and intriguing. The setting of New Zealand is a neat variation from other thrillers and offers unique situations for chase and get away, rediscovery and new chase. I loved the atmosphere created of remote areas in this remote country and of the laid back people to be found there.
The characters of the three “goodies” have been creatively nuanced so that there are both personality clashes and personality attractions. Their interactions add a good side line to the main story.
Anything weak – perhaps the dialogue which at times does not sound realistic in the tense circumstances.
The Alo Release is an easy read, and is split into chapters short enough to act as a book at bed time. I normally don’t enjoy thrillers much but this one kept my attention and got me to bed promptly for a couple of weeks.
Hoping that the author will produce a series of books as good as the first one. (5 stars)