Hello everyone, and welcome back to the one year anniversary celebration of Stories Insights and Weird Thoughts! If you haven’t grabbed a copy of Dead Boys, be sure to pick one up for free while you can. Anyway, onto business. Today we will be looking at rising author Neil Mosspark’s premiere novel Sand Fall. Let’s take a look shall we? As usual, I will be looking over the world building, the characters, the story, and writing style.
The World Building
For the majority of the novel, the primary setting takes place on the desert planet that is easily described as a hostile wasteland where it is survival of the fittest. The author helps create the image of how difficult it would be to survive on this planet through the recollections of the various characters such as the centipede’s knowledge of how the grass eaters are the only ones able to find moisture and the meat eaters/predators consume them to stay alive. Through another character’s inner monologue, the reader learns that this planet has been visited several times before, but each time the people have been killed by either starvation or the predators. After reading a few chapters, it becomes a more believable wasteland.
When it came to the characters, I can honestly say that some of them were more memorable than others. The three characters that stood out to me the most would consist of the following; Adam, the pilot of the doomed ship who would soon become controlled by a parasitic centipede, Emmett who is one of the guards who becomes more hostile as time goes on, and Liege, a sentient machine and scavenger who has been on the planet for several hundred cycles and wants more than anything to get off of the planet. To me, these characters are the most fleshed out and believable of the entire story. I can actually imagine the centipede running down the length of Adam’s body as it slowly learns human sentiment and I can imagine Liege walking from wreckage to wreckage as he looks for power sources to keep him alive. But other characters such as Tricia and Anvi would become less memorable and almost forgettable as the story went on. My other problem with the characters is that Emmett is easily predictable. From the first words that come out of his mouth, I could tell that he was going to do something drastic or crazy. Later when he kills another of the survivors in the middle of the night for water, I sort of knew that it was coming. I would applaud Neil’s attempts to create a cohesive story that showed the cruelty of this world, but I honestly feel that he tried to have too many characters in this novel. Each of these characters could have had an entire novel or at least an extended novella about their time on the planet, but it is thrown together into a literary blender where some tastes are stronger than others.
The story as scantly mentioned before would be that the survivors of this ship have to try to reach a habitat that was ejected from their ship in order to survive their hostile environment. They will have to contend with not only scorching heat and a lack of resources, but dangerous creatures that are more than willing to eat anything, even each other. This kind of story has been done before several times and to say that Neil had given the story a different take on a commonly seen trope would be a half truth. While some ideas are original, it feels too familiar to other novels and it plays out almost too safely to the extent that it is almost boring at times. Some moments like Emmett killing another survivor in the middle of the night could have been seen pages ahead of time.I would have found it more interesting if it was another character who killed the patient rather than Emmett such as the aged doctor. It would have been more interesting if the author had decided to include other concepts such as delirium.
The Writing Style
Over the course of the book’s fifty four chapters, the story is divided by different character’s perspectives of the current situation, swapping back from story to story. While this can be a creative means of telling a story, I feel that Neil Mosspark had bitten off more than he could chew for this. With the constant exchange of characters and stories in the novel, the reader almost forgets other characters and stories. It would have been an impressive idea to separate the book by sections, having one section dedicated to Alpha and the predators, one section to Liege, and so on.
Another issue that I have had with this story is that there are grammatical errors throughout the story that can be distracting from the overall read.
I would have to congratulate Neil Mosspark for his ambitious effort he took in writing Sand Fall and its 327 pages, but it could have been improved. This book felt like it was lingering too much within its comfort zone without a second thought of trying something risky. With some authors and their premiere book, they will go full out and try things that are not commonly seen in mainstream literary works, but this was the equivalent to a person dipping their toes into the water to test for temperature. I would like to see Neil Mosspark’s future work and how he progresses as a writer, but he has some things to learn.
If you want to check out the book, it is available on Amazon for purchase on Kindle.
Neil Mosspark also has a website as well where his writing can be found. Feel free to check it out here.