I recently got a sample of Dan Harris’s Ascension Point from Amazon.com. I’d always assumed Indie published novels were crap, Harris’s sample proved me wrong. So, I pushed out a preliminary view of the sample about two weeks ago on my blog, “A Preliminary Review: Ascension Point by Dan Harris” and then bought the book ($4.99 on Amazon).
Ascension Point is science fiction in the “it’s the future” sense of the genre, with the Seryn race, Harris mixes in a bit of fantasy. As I read through the novel, I felt more and more that it was a YA novel. Why? Luc, Neela, Abe, and Ariadne, make up the Chosen, representatives of their races to read the Book of Ascension and achieve enlightenment and immortality. Luc, Neela, and Abe aren’t teenagers, Ariadne is, so what made it feel YA to me? Their character arcs—Luc, a Titan neophyte receives the results of his final test, mirroring a transition into manhood; Neela is a senator but she follows in the footsteps of her father, a politician, and “chas[es] a legend from her family’s past” working, by the end of the novel, towards a different path; Abe, an outcast, seems young compared to the rest of the Collective and journey’s towards finding his place in the universe. Ariadne, the only teenager, is filled with the mystical wisdom of the Seryn and dangerous discrimination of her people; her growth is minimal throughout the novel, though her youth is apparent in her wonder at the rest of the world.
Could Harris easily shift this to a YA novel? Yes. Should he? That’s his call. I don’t know much about traditional publishing, but if he were to pursue that path, I’d recommend a YA overhaul for a better chance at success.
While I read, Harris’s use of humor throughout the novel reminded me of Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Not only did Ascension Point bring out genuine laughter in me, but the plot, though epic in nature, was handled in a light and refreshing way, similar to that of Hitchhiker’s. I was able to tear through Ascension Point rather quickly and didn’t have to spend hours wondering when the climax would finally arrive.
I always have an eye on the writing of the books I read and I have no qualms abandoning a book for grammar that makes my head spin, but Harris pulled me in and kept me. He can grow, as all writers can, but the mistakes he made were minimal and the types I’d suspect from a new author. While Indie books can get the bad rap of poor editing, I don’t think this is the case for Harris’s novel. I’ve abandoned more traditionally published books for their poor editing than Harris made mistakes in his novel.
Overall, I’d give Ascension a 4/5 because though Harris has made an amazing debut, I know this won’t be the best we’ll see from him. You’ll see my Goodreads and Amazon scores are 5/5 because I believe that Ascension deserves the 5/5 score in terms of marketing—I’m his first review and this indie author deserves the support and hopefully income that will come from a 5/5 as his first review.
Ascension Point is a must read.