Saturday, February 6, 2016

Audiobook Review: Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson

Title: Island 731
Author: Jeremy Robinson
Narrator: R. C. Bray
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
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Mark Hawkins, former park ranger and expert tracker, is out of his element, working on board the Magellan, a research vessel studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But his work is interrupted when, surrounded by thirty miles of refuse,  the ship and its high tech systems are plagued by a series of strange malfunctions and the crew is battered by a raging storm.

When the storm fades and the sun rises, the beaten crew awakens to find themselves anchored in the protective cove of a tropical island... and no one knows how they got there. Even worse, the ship has been sabotaged, two crewman are dead and a third is missing. Hawkins spots signs of the missing man on shore and leads a small team to bring him back. But they quickly discover evidence of a brutal history left behind by the Island’s former occupants: Unit 731, Japan’s ruthless World War II human experimentation program. Mass graves and military fortifications dot the island, along with a decades old laboratory housing the remains of hideous experiments.

As crew members start to disappear, Hawkins realizes that they are not alone. In fact, they were brought to this strange and horrible island. The crew is taken one-by-one and while Hawkins fights to save his friends, he learns the horrible truth: Island 731 was never decommissioned and the person taking his crewmates may not be a person at all—not anymore.

Are you a fan of crazy conspiracy theories? Do you enjoy reading about secret experiments carried out by various governments? Then you should probably get your hands on this book because crazy conspiracy theories and experiments are what it's all about. It's not often that I read adult fiction, but I've been in a weird, conspiracy kind of mood lately (it might have something to do with binge watching Making a Murderer). When I stumbled across this one, I knew I had to make some time for it and I'm glad that I did!

Island 731 is about a group of sailors and researchers who are unfortunate enough to find themselves stranded on an uncharted island during a brutal storm. Strange things start to happen and the crew comes face to face with a series of extremely disturbing life forms. From there the mystery begins to unravel slowly as the danger grows more real and tension builds.

Mark Hawkins is the main character in this story and he was a pretty decent one, in my opinion. Mark is a prior park ranger and was raised to understand the importance respecting nature. This makes him the obvious choice to lead the team when they land on the island and start to lose people to its inhabitance. I enjoyed Mark overall and found him to be a believable character for the most part. He was a smart, strategic, and likable character, but with one really annoying flaw. Remember how I said he respects nature? Well, it is taken to almost a ridiculous level at times. There were a lot of flashbacks to his upbringing and I was honestly waiting for him to break out into song with "Colors of the Wind." I honestly feel like pointing out his background as a ranger would have been enough.

I really enjoyed the conspiracy plot of this book a lot. It was extremely reminiscent of The Island of Doctor Moreau but with even more crazies! Each time another part of the big picture was revealed, I was a little bit shocked. Even the big reveal, which I thought I had figured out early on, caught me completely off guard. Still, my suspension of disbelief can only go so far and the experiments on Island 731 actually took me past my threshold somewhere around 3/4 of the way through and the end actually had me rolling my eyes.

Despite its eventual unbelievability, Island 731 was a quick, creepy read with enough twists and turns to keep it really interesting. I'd definitely recommend this book to fans of The Island of Doctor Moreau or The Madman's Daughter trilogy! I do think I'll be checking out more of Jeremy Robinsons books in the future.

°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
R. C. Bray is a fantastic narrator! I knew I had heard him before and looked into what else he'd narrated, only to see that he was the voice actor for The Martian. Although I DNF'd that one, the acting was superb and it was no different in Island 731.