Friday, August 7, 2015

Review: The Contaminants by Devin Smyth

The Contaminants

(New Dakota Series, Volume 1) 
 by Devin K. Smyth
Firedrake Books, LLC (2nd Edition)
Middle Grade Science Fiction
Pages: 230 
For Ages: 12+

Amazon * Smashwords * Goodreads

When the American government's attempt to "purify" Earth causes a worldwide nuclear holocaust, teen friends Jessil and Soraj are among the few to escape the planet. Orbiting in a cruiser designed to help regenerate Earth's ecosystem, they assist Soraj's father, who leads the process to salvage a location for the cruiser's safe return. But when a mysterious distress signal arrives from Earth, Jessil is desperate to discover who sent it. She and Soraj join the reconnaissance team that descends to the planet, a world very different from the one they knew. In such a strange land, can their search-and-rescue effort succeed? And if it does, will it mean failure for Earth's recovery?


It took me a bit to get into this story, but once I did, I'm glad I held on. This book is written from the view point of two characters, Sil and Raj. Sil is a cast-away on a spaceship which left Earth shortly before the destruction of the planet's surface. Raj is the son of the head scientist in charge of rejuvenating the planet, and is well aware of his father's important position on board the ship. The first chapters not only switch between Sil to Raj, but also to different time periods, so in order not to get lost, one needs to watch the chapter titles.

It takes a couple chapters to get the scene set and the background information going, simply because the story is fairly complex. But these chapters aren't boring. The descriptions are wonderful. It's easy to see the ship and get a feel for the huge ship Sil lives in and it's even more interesting to learn about how she and the other people on board live. The underlying worry and stress is evident and easy to picture as the author leads the reader through Sil's average morning. I had no trouble feeling the constant concern and found myself hoping Sil and her brothers would make it through.

There are tons of great ideas and messages in this book, and each is expertly woven into the plot while maintaining a tension that doesn't let go. Subtle concern for survival changes intensifies as the characters find themselves in one dangerous situation after the other. The 'monsters' and creatures they encounter are full of fantasy, reminding me a little bit Journey to the Center of the Earth. It's a great setting, and a suspenseful ride.

There were a couple of holes in the logic behind the entire situation, but nothing that can't be over looked. The only thing which really bothered me about this book were the characters themselves. Not only was it a little distracting to have their names change (nick-names) depending on who was talking with/about them, but except for Sil and her little brother, Lo, there was a definite lack of emotions. Especially Raj tended to act like a robot, which was too bad because I really. . .really wanted to like him.

All in all, it's an interesting read with unique ideas that capture the science fiction fan's imagination and leave them thinking days after setting the book down. I think kids 10+ would enjoy it.

More Buzz About the Book

"The Contaminants, a work of dystopian fantasy for teens from Devin K. Smyth (the pen name of Kevin Speth), serves as the first volume of his New Dakota series. Composed of two believable first-person narratives and based around two father-child relationships, this is a novel that prizes emotions as much as it does technology." ~ Rebecca, Foreward Reviews
"The Contaminants by Devin K. Smyth is a story of survival, friendship, loyalty, and hope set in the aftermath of planetary devastation. I loved this book... I didn't want to put the book down. I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next. This is a great start to what I hope will be a continuing series." ~ Ubiquitous Bubba, Amazon

"This story had me sucked in from the very beginning, and I had trouble putting it down. The science was thorough and awesome. The characters were portrayed at different ages and through different stages of their journey with skill and a perfect arc. " ~ Amie M., Amazon

"An exciting trek to a post-nuclear Earth! Tightly composed and never off tangent in its delivery, "The Contaminants" by Devin K. Smyth packs many punches" ~ Future Boy, Amazon

"There's enough drama and tension here to keep you riveted. Smyth's concept of a world intentionally destroyed in order to "improve" on it is fresh and provocative. The characters are well developed and engaging. I'm eager to read the next story in this chapter, and find out more about this new yet familiar world." ~ Nikki B., Amazon

And here he is. . .

Devin K. Smyth !!!

Devin K. Smyth is the pen name of Kevin Speth, a part-time novelist and full-time marketing copywriter in the field of children’s entertainment. He resides in southern Wisconsin with his girlfriend and their herd of cats. The Contaminants is Devin K. Smyth’s first novel and is the first in the “New Dakota” series.

Firedrake Books | Goodreads


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