(Once upon a time, I became aware of an author named D.G Lamb who was looking to do a blog tour to promote her new book. I volunteered to host a guest post, but apparently my message wasn't received until too (maybe I should've responded to the Facebook post instead of sending someone who didn't know me a DM) late for that. Instead, I was offered a chance to review her book as part of the blog tour. And it's Science Fiction and reviewing SF/F is what I do, soo...
Yeah, it worked.
At any rate, that's my way of saying "Welcome" to any of you out there who stopped by because they were following the Driven to the Hilt Blog Tour. I hope you enjoy yourselves while you're here and if you like what you see, stay. We love new followers here at Jimbo's!)
Joshua is the main character of D.G. Lamb's Driven to the Hilt I: The Deepest Cut. He is also a survivor. That's probably the best thing I can say about him and that's awesome. I didn't start out thinking that. I wasn't sure I was going to like the kid much at first. I'm a nerd. He starts out as a jock. We're kind of natural enemies. It's not that he seemed like a bad kid. He's actually a good guy. And the series is really well named. He is legitimately driven to the hilt. I don't know how a human being could survive more than what this kid went through, but he toughed it out.
And what's more, I really do like him. He has to go through some serious stuff and make some hard decisions, but he doesn't flinch from what he has to do.He's got both brains and guts and that's a rare combination. Joshua is a teenager, but he has more maturity, at least by the end of The Deepest Cut, than a lot of adults I know. Joshua is not always a nice guy. Sometimes being nice and being alive don't go together all that well. At the end of the day though, he makes the right decisions in circumstances I wouldn't like to face personally.
Oh, and he's both intelligent and well educated, especially for his age. The story begins with his mother home schooling him and he seems to be able to understand and explain the written word better than a lot of college students I've had classes with. He's read at least some of the classics of Western literature, including Machiavelli. He also has a love for and knowledge of show tunes that even my girlfriend would envy.
He's resourceful too. When he finds himself alone in the world at a young age he does what he has to do. He's creative. He's intelligent. He finds sources of food that no one else would think to try and thrives off of them. He builds things. He finds work in unlikely places. I can't say enough about this kid and how much he impresses me.
He has a willingness to do research that a lot of adults lack as well. I've known people who get upset at kids who just google everything, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Granted, Lamb doesn't actually call it "googling" but if when Joshua needs knowledge and doesn't have a lot of time to get it, he knows where to look. That much is good in and of itself, but he also has confindence THAT he can learn what he needs to know if he tries.
The world Joshua lives on is not Earth. This makes me happy. Some of the wildlife in The Deepest Cut is quite frankly terrifying and the more light years away it is, the more comfortable I am. Spidervipers sound like something I'd have loved to talk about as a young kid, in a weird kind of way. Remember the conversations you had as a kid about "Would a wolf win a fight against a bear?" Yeah, a spiderviper would fit in well with that. Except that spidervipers are legitimately creepy on top of being badass. I'm not the kind of guy that runs from a spider but I'd pretty much soil my shorts if one of those showed up. There are other creatures as well. Joshua learns to contend with all of them.
He also seems to be more than he seems to be. I know that doesn't make sense but you'd really have to read the book to get it. Joshua does have a trick about slowing down time that seems to be some type of power, but there are other characters who talk about him. What they say leads me to believe that this kid has some kind of destiny, but he's not Harry Potter. There are hints but no outright statements about what the destiny is or even why they think it's Joshua. There are more books coming and that's a good thing, because Lamb seems to have asked more questions with her first book than she answered.
I don't want to take things too far though. Joshua is far from perfect. He screws up a couple of times and almost gets himself killed more than once. Still though, you can't help but root for the kid when he tries this hard and refuses to give up. He's one resolute kid and his failures only accentuate how hard he's working at what he has to do.
I'm guess that Lamb spent a lot of time doing research of her own. I don't have any real survival experience of my own, but I've done some reading (Surprising, I know) and most of what Joshua learns in his research matches what I've read almost word for word. When I say he does things in a "textbook" manner it's not just a figure of speech. The actions he performs are exactly the ones that I've read about in the textbooks. I like that. I already stated that he make mistakes sometimes, but not once did I put my phone down and scream "MORON" the way I have at some other books. It's a refreshing change.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that parts of this book bring me back to my days as a fan of both CSI and mobster movies. At some points, I almost forgot that I was in a Science Fiction novel because a lot of the action was so realistic that it could have been happening five miles from where I'm sitting right now. Lamb did an awesome job mixing the fantastical elements of her story with the mundane ones.
My only complaint about The Deepest Cut, and it's one I've mentioned with other books a few times lately, is that it starts off kind of slow. Now, I know it's the first book in a series and that they always start out slow, but it still took me a wee bit longer to get through the first chapter or two of the book than it should have. Overall though, The Deepest Cut is still an excellent work and was a true joy to read.
Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Spiderviper Teeth
Driven to the Hilt 1: The Deepest Cut
Calyse Publishing, 2017