Reviews for Dormant Enhancement:
Dormant a refreshing and thrilling novel
Jack Richards' Dormant Enhancement is a futuristic novel based on an extreme educational program in American schools set in the year 2024. This novel is not necessarily based upon a typical dystopia. The premise for DE is centered on the decline in educational and moral success in children and young adults, and the government's response and attempt to divide and control.
By the year 2018, all children upon their 12th birthday are required to enter Dormant Enhancement, a rigid programming system which allows for completely uninterrupted educational feed into a child's mind. Children are entered into the program at age 12 and graduate at age 16, completely and superiorly educated.
The protagonist of our story is Sharon Bradbury, a grieving widow tricked into bringing her two young children back to the United States from Australia, their home for over ten years. In moving back to America, Sharon soon learns that she must enroll her 12 year-old son, Eric, into the Dormant Enhancement program immediately or face harsh legal penalties. In refusing to do so, she must battle the school system that has not lost yet.
Murder, mayhem, and some very interesting plot techniques make for an exceptionally intriguing read. DE is one of those novels that many are able to sit down to read and finish completely within a few hours. Gripping and fast-paced, DE is a great read for those interested in a short but powerful science fiction book based upon the plights of the current education system. Or for those interested in a good fiction novel.
The conspiring and diabolical plot bases itself upon a government dead-set on programming and controlling the masses starting with children. There is no questioning why some instructors are using this book as a conversation booster in college classrooms. Education in a stable and controlled environment, based upon the desires of the child's parents proves to be an interesting topic for students and instructors alike.
Interestingly enough, for some the ending leaves something to be desired. One might consider DE's dramatic ending a cliffhanger of the special sort, in which the reader desires but does not require a sequel. Others may not be so forgiving. This reporter found the ending to be a refreshing break from the traditional detritus of happy endings and sweet breaks.
Overall a fantastic read, filled with the tiny seeds of ideas necessary to really get the wheels turning. Two thumbs up from this reporter.
Sure, time travel, life on other planets, space monsters, aliens, mutants, androids, paranormal abilities, etc. can be fun, but it seems to me that we've gone overboard. A preoccupation with a future that is way beyond the range of at least a modicum of reality does not hold the same degree of interest for me as that which looks at events and activities that, in fact, can come true.
Such is the case with Dormant Enhancement by Jack Richards. It's a refreshing return to the plausible that is both fascinating and frightening. Perhaps "frightening" is the operative word here. For some reason we need to be scared, and space monsters, vampires, and aliens certainly make our skin crawl. But I find a work such as Dormant Enhancement to be far more unsettling. Unsettling because rational thought tells me there really aren't vampires out there lusting for our blood, or space monsters that travel millions of miles to vie for that same blood. To help state his theme, the author has chosen a passage from Aldous Huxley's book, Brave New World: "...the rulers of tomorrow's over-populated and over-organized world will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this end, they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence." Now this scares me!
Education is one of the most important aspects of life. We stress about getting a good education to become more rounded human beings to help contribute to society. The novel, Dormant Enhancement, takes our education system and puts a futuristic twist to it. The author, Jack Richards, creates a futuristic world that teaches the young generation through a program called Dormant Enhancement. The children are taught from guidelines that their parents set. The parents having a say about what their children learn sounds nice, but parents are essentially creating carbon copies of themselves. In the novel there are other flaws that are exposed by a concerned mother, the protagonist, Sharon Bradbury. She sees D.E. taking individuality away from students. Sharon tries to keep her son, Eric, out of the program but keeps running into new twists and turns that leave the reader wanting more. Page after page is full of excitement and questions that lead to an ending that raises more questions than answers.
I highly recommend this book. It's a real page-turner, and yet it will open your eyes to the problems with our education system. Don't miss it!
I was thrilled to see that Jack Richards responded to our request to "rescue" our heroine from a sure death by writing a sequel to his first Dormant Enhancement. I immediately got it and was delighted with the result - except that even it seemed to call for a continuation of the story, which, hopefully, I eagerly await. I'm a real fan.
- Lois A.
Jack Richards' DORMANT ENHANCEMENT is a dystopian novel about the education system, describing a future in which children are required, after the age of twelve, to enter a isolation program so as to avoid negative interactions with their peers. It's rather a startling concept, and one that I've not really seen before in all of my years of science fiction reading. This concept is what I like most about the novel, and I appreciate the thought that Richards has put into the scenario - he's thought through many of its implications. Thankfully, the other aspects of the book live up to this promise. The writing is generally quite smooth and effective, with some very elegant passages throughout. The characterization is solid, and the plot moves swiftly and efficiently. ... The book's interior design is quite nicely done,; the cover seems a bit bland and generic, though perhaps Richards had no control over that. A very nice job, overall, and a book that I would recommend to friends who enjoy science fiction and a thought-provoking read.
- Writer's Digest
Reviews for Return:
Jack Richards Makes a Smashing Return to Fiction!
Two thumbs up and five stars. Return by Jack Richards is highly recommended!
This book is a collection of four novellas, each offering something unique to the reader. An intriguing murder mystery owing a nod to Hitchcock's Rear Window in its set up, and a story of gold and the fervid desire it inspires are synopses for just two of the entertaining novellas in Return. Jack Richards employs a writing style throughout this collection that is fast paced and cinematic, reminding me of one of Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing Great Fiction - leave the boring stuff out.
It is clear that Jack Richards is as much a fan of great American films as he is of literature, and any movie junkie out there would feel right at home in this collection. The stories are touching, hilarious, suspenseful, and terrifying. None are predictable. The dialogue is spot on, and the narrative advances the stories clearly and with rapid pacing.
Return has something for any reader, and especially if you are a fan of great stories first and genre second, this collection is a must read!
Really, Really Good !!!
I'll admit that I was already a Jack Richards fan before opening this book (Dormant Enhancement, his previous novel, was one of the most grounded and plausible takes on a science fiction premise that I've ever read, and I loved it). His writing in Return is simply superb. For those who somehow don't know, Return is a collection of four novellas, each one completely different in subject and genre. As a skillful wordsmith, Richards nimbly navigates through each story with masterful precision. After reading just a page of each character, you feel that you know them. You can root for them, or hate them and in any case understand why they make the choices that they make. Whether you, the reader, intend to read the novellas separately or you decide to read the collection in one sitting (it’s a quick read), you'll thoroughly enjoy Return!
Of the four novellas, I liked “Murder at the Lake” the best. Maybe it’s because I recently vacationed at a beachfront cabin with my family and so I could vividly picture every scene actually taking place, but even so I liked it enough that I would have bought the book for this one story on its own.
“Gold Fever,” my second favorite from the collection, was a very interesting read. Without spoiling the story, I'll simply say that there were a few parts where I was almost screaming at the characters. Not because I didn't like them, but sometimes the decisions that they made were shocking to me. And yet I enjoyed it very much because it kept me on my toes the entire time and because I think in some cases they were very realistic reactions to extraordinary circumstances, even though they may not be what we necessarily expect of heroes.
“Perpetual Motion” and “Revelation” were good stories as well, good enough that I can with good conscience recommend them to you, though as I said previously, I would have bought the collection simply for “Murder at the Lake.”
-Durinda L. Shaw
I really didn't know what to expect when I ordered Jack Richards' new book, Return - Four Novellas, but I had read and loved his novel Dormant Enhancement, so I eagerly looked forward to another work by him. I'm so glad I did! Each story was captivationg and became my favorite as soon as I had finished it. Each is very different, yet a common theme runs throughout them all. The central charactger struggles to "return" to another time, place, or state of mind. Richards' style is lean and focused. He spends little time on elements that do not speed the story forward. They move, and perhaps that's why once begun, each has to be followed to its conclusion. Highly recommended to all.
- Sally Frazier
REVIEWS FOR FORLORN HOPE
I was so pleased to see a book that presented the woman's side of our country's Westward Movement near the middle of the 19th Century. Most people know the general story of the Donner Party's struggle, but the focus almost always has been on the men who were the guiding force. Mr. Richards follows the actions of the Eddy family and in so doing is able to both tell the emigrant's story while, at the same time, providing the reader with an insight into the mind of the women who accompanied them. The story is sad, and I was moved. I'm certain that it would be an eye-opener for our younger people today. The piclture of our forefather's (and mother's) courage in the face of unbelievable hardships is something that should be better understood and appreciated. Definitely a five-star read.
I found this book to be a dramatic solution (?) to a mystery that has long existed in the Donner Party story. From what I remember, nobody could say for sure just what happened at the very end of the attempted rescues. What really happened, and who was really guilty(?) of cannibalism has been much discussed through the years. At the same time it presents the much-ignored story of suffering by the women. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
- Doug B.
Forlorn Hope is the 4th book I've read on the Donner Party and is by far the most moving and interesting of the lot, perhaps because it gives the frontier woman's perspective. I truly identified with Eleanor Eddy and suffereed along with her.
- Carolyn A.
REVIEWS FOR QUEST ASSOCIATES
What a fun read! I think all of us (when we were young of course) had some wild adventure(s) in mind llike the one that unfolds in Quest Associates. I found it thoroughly enjoyable as an "escape" vehicle and so, I read it straight through because i couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. Congratulations to Mr. Richards for such a captivating story. Can't wait to read his other books.
- Andy Gillis
A fun, easy read. Tremendously enjoyable!
- Jim. F.
I admit I started this book with a critical eye, ready to pick apart the author's knowledge of the world of SCUBA diving (about which I know a lot) but soon found myself caught up in the story even though I realize there are elements that are clearly exaggerated. Once I got past all of that, however, I admit that I was carried along by the story which I really liked. 5 stars for me.
- Tom Adams
REVIEWS FOR CRY OF THE WOLF
Jack London's efforts in behalf of the dispossessed of his day may be unknown, or at least forgotten, by many today. Cry of the Wolf by Jack Richards artfully tells the story of London's struggles and helps to put into perspective those same struggles today. In the past, several books (most notably Sailor on Horseback) told this story beautifully, but this new book serves as an excellent reminder for a whole new generation of the direction in which we are headed. Congratulations to the author for bringing this story to the attention of our nation of readers today.
An amazing story of an amazing life!