Welcome to my stop on the Vostok Blog Tour, presented by iRead Book Tours! There are all kinds of awesome in this post: my review, the book trailer, a short guest post from the author, and an International giveaway of the book (keep reading to the end for the giveaway). I’m very grateful to iRead Book Tours for supplying a copy of the book.
About the book:
Vostok (The Loch #2) by Steve Alten
Genre: Adult science fiction
Publisher: Rebel Press
Release date: Available now
Source: Finished book from publisher
East Antarctica: The coldest, most desolate location on Earth. Two-and-a-half miles below the ice cap is Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep, left untouched for more than 15 million years. Now, marine biologist Zachary Wallace and two other scientists aboard a submersible tethered to a laser will journey 13,000 feet beneath the ice into this unexplored realm to discover Mesozoic life forms long believed extinct and an object of immense power responsible for the evolution of modern man.
In this sequel to The Loch and prequel to the upcoming Meg 5: Nightstalkers, New York Times best-selling author Steve Alten offers readers a crossover novel that combines characters from two of his most popular series.
The nitty-gritty: A thrill ride of a story from start to finish, but it might be just too much for one book.
I decided to join the blog tour for Vostok rather reluctantly, since I don’t read indie books any more. But I’m so glad that I got to experience this story, because it’s certainly given me a lot to think about! If you enjoyed The Martian by Andy Weir, then you will most likely enjoy this book too, although the stories are completely different. Like The Martian, Steve Alten dumps his characters in a very dangerous and secluded location and forces them to use their wits to escape. But while the premise of Weir’s book can be summed up in one sentence, Vostok is a rather more complex plot that went in directions I would not have guessed in a million years! Bottom line? Alten is a very solid and seasoned writer with loads of imagination and has gone to great lengths to do research for this very science-heavy plot. BUT if I were an editor at a traditional publishing house, I would have separated this story into two different books. (And that could be one reason Alten chose the self-publishing route: he didn’t want to compromise his story.)
It’s hard to even summarize Vostok for you, but I’m going to give it a shot. Zachary Wallace is a Scottish marine biologist who famously “discovered” exactly what kind of creature the Loch Ness Monster was. He lives with his wife and son in a small town near the Loch, where the tourist trade isn’t doing so well, now that Nessie’s mystery has been solved. One day, he’s approached by some visiting scientists who are doing research in Antarctica, trying to determine if life exists in the chilly waters of Lake Vostok, a huge body of water that is covered by a thick layer of ice. Zach reluctantly agrees to join the expedition, mostly due to the temptingly large sum of money he’s offered, but also because his marriage to his fiery wife Brandy is shaky at the moment, and time away from each other might be just what the doctor ordered.
Upon arriving in the frigid and dangerous conditions of Antarctica, Zach and fellow scientists Dr. Ming Liao and Captain Ben Hintzmann prepare to be submerged into Lake Vostok via a torpedo-shaped submersible. Their harrowing journey through miles of ice and into the waters of the lake is only the beginning of this crazy adventure, where Zach will come into contact with some deep-sea creatures that shouldn’t even be alive. But then Zach discovers that Ming and Ben have another agenda, and he realizes that not only is his own life in danger, but so are the lives of everyone he knows.
The first half of the book was fantastic. We’re introduced to Zach and his family, a bunch of very colorful Scots. Alten gives a little background into the events that came before Vostok, when Zach became famous for debunking the Loch Ness Monster. (And you can read all about that story in The Loch, which is technically the first book in this series, but you do not need to read it first in order to enjoy Vostok.) Money is tight for the Wallace family when Dr. Liao comes calling with her lucrative offer for Zach to join the exploration of Lake Vostok in Antarctica. When they arrive, Alten immediately dumps the three explorers into the lake, and right away the reader is swept up in the amazing life forms they find below. There’s plenty of action and danger, too, as the three are threatened by one gargantuan creature after another. I literally was on the edge of my seat as Zach and his friends begin to realize that not only are they in danger from the jaws and teeth of the giant crocodiles and whales that want to eat them, but because they are so far under the ice, getting out of the lake alive is a nearly impossible feat.
But about halfway through the story, a different plot emerges, and suddenly the focus shifts from prehistoric life forms to a glowing light under the lake, and before you know it, Zach is suddenly involved in a conspiracy theory that involves alien technology, time travel and the metaphysical possibilities of parallel lives. On its own, this section of the story would have been a fascinating read—and don’t get me wrong, I was highly entertained by this part, and it gave me a lot to think about. It also made my head spin at times, because the scientific concepts were so dense at times. I won’t go into details about this section, because I don’t want to spoil the story, but I did feel as if I’d been jarringly ripped out of the original story and now had to run to catch up with the new one.
I mostly went along with the plot, although at times I questioned some of the most basic ideas. For example, the weather conditions in Antarctica and especially under the lake are extremely harsh and unlivable. It’s almost as if they are going into outer space to explore another planet. And yet, none of the characters go through any kind of evaluation to see if they’re physically and mentally fit for the experience! Zach has no training in plunging through miles of ice and exploring the depths of a lake where man has never been before, and yet he’s thrown into a submersible and basically told “good luck!” Not only that, but he and his crew members learn how to drive and maneuver the submersible in no time at all!
The one element that does tie everything together is Lake Vostok, and you’ll see what I mean when you read it. Alten has crafted quite the tale, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read this book. If you love biology and learning about little-known life forms, and you enjoy an exciting story that will make you think about your place in the world, then Vostok is a must-read.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
In 2005, I released my eighth novel, The LOCH, a thriller about one man’s quest to resolve the mystery at Loch Ness. In writing the sequel, I wanted to preserve the main characters and take them to another mysterious lake.
Truth, it seems, really is stranger than fiction.
Lake Vostok is a subglacial liquid lake located 13,000 feet beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. It’s very big – over a hundred and sixty miles long and fifty miles wide, with depths surpassing eleven hundred feet. It actually possesses two islands and a magnetic anomaly that is off the charts. Vostok has remained untouched for 15 million years.
Quite the place to set a thriller!
VOSTOK the novel centers around an expedition to submerge into these unexplored waters using a three man torpedo-shaped submersible tethered to a laser. What will they discover? Read the book and find out.
Getting the science right is very important to me. To enable my characters to access Vostok, I contact Bill Stone of Stone Aerospace, the company that is designing a drone to access the frozen seas on the Jupiter moon, Europa. Bill was incredibly helpful, enabling the Vostok journey to be feasible.
For readers craving monsters – Vostok has them. For sci-fi fans seeking answers regarding humanity’s beginning and end – got that too. Enjoy!
About the author:
Steve Alten is the New York Times and International bestselling author of fourteen novels, including the MEG series about Carcharodon Megalodon, the 70-foot, 100,000 pound prehistoric cousin of the Great White shark and Domain trilogy, a series about the Mayan Calendar’s 2012 doomsday prophecy. His work has been published in over 30 countries and is being used in thousands of middle and high school curriculum as part of Adopt-An-Author, a free teen reading program, which he founded with teachers back in 1999.
Watch the book trailer!
And now for the giveaway! You guys, you have an AWESOME chance of winning a copy of Vostok! The publisher is kindly giving away FIFTY COPIES, and it’s open internationally! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Good luck!