IF YOU EVER READ THIS TELL OTHERS DON’T COME HERE.
When a mountain mysteriously appears in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of scientists are sent to investigate – and discover what is at the summit.
Eminent scientist, explorer and chronic loner Harry Tunmore is among those asked to join the secret mission – and he has his own reasons for joining the team beyond scientific curiosity…
But the higher the team ascend, the stranger things become. Time and space behave differently on the mountain, turning minutes into hours, and hours into days. Amid the whipping cold and steep dangers of higher elevation, the climbers’ limbs numb and memories of their lives before the mountain begin to fade.
What will they discover about themselves and their world as they rise? What, or who, will they discover at the top?
Framed by the discovery of Harry Tunmore’s unsent letters to his family and the chilling and provocative story they tell, Ascension considers the limitations of science and faith and examines both the beautiful and the unsettling sides of human nature.
MY REVIEW ****
I must admit that I slightly mis-read the blurb for Ascension and was expecting more of a psychological thriller (much like the brilliant Breathless by Amy McCulloch) than a sci-fi horror story!
Ascension starts off fairly normally with an introduction by ‘the author’ of the book, who has published his brother’s letters after finding him in an institution many years since believing him dead. The rest of the story is told through these letters from Harold to his brother’s daughter as he and a team of scientists and soldiers climb a mysterious mountain which has appeared overnight. Although the trip starts with secrets, betrayal and paranoia, there are soon scary creatures, murders and time travel to contend with in a race to the top. I thought the letter format worked well to tell the story and the book in general is well written with enough to get you hooked in. There are footnotes explaining the dates which are written at the top of each chapter, but these weren’t formatted well for my Kindle, sometimes being several pages later on. Hopefully this is fixed by the publication date – I personally love a clickable footnote (hint hint!).
There are quite a few characters on the expedition, but I didn’t really feel we got to know many of them except Harold and Naoko, his wife. This lessened the impact when some of them went missing or died later on in the trip. There are a lot of flashbacks to Harold’s life with Naoko and their son Santi and although I enjoyed the conclusion of this story and it was very heart-breaking to read, I thought there was perhaps too much build up and too much time spent on this. As the events on the mountain were so interesting and unusual I didn’t like the change in pace and shifting emphasis onto these flashbacks.
The book gets more and more into the realm of sci-fi as it progresses, but I found the conclusion to be a little odd and dare I say, far-fetched. This was quite a disappointment because of all of the build-up that had come before it. I did like the ambiguity in the ending though and it leaves you wondering whether the events had actually happened or not which I enjoyed.
Overall, Ascension is a creepy sci-fi tale which is well told, however the ending was a little too much of a stretch for me! Thank you to NetGalley & Harper Collins UK, HarperFiction & Harper Voyager for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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