Cover Image: Ariel's Island

Ariel's Island

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Member Reviews

i really enjoyed reading this book, the characters were great and I really loved the mystery that was going on. It really kept me guessing from beginning to the end.
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The seeming suicide of a partner in his law firm propels Paul Mc Daniel into intrigue well above his pay grade. Paul is now first chair in a complicated patent struggle that has been in the courts and was heading to a longer battle until a Supreme Court ruling undermined a back street deal and brought a victory and complications to his firm unbeknownst to him.. His victory gave him a partnership he had longed for and a look into the world of patents and AI (artificial intelligence) that required a crash course in survival. The first lesson was learning who to trust and while the learning curve was steep a few characters evolved from good to bad to maybe good again. Paul stumbles on Agent Grey and his future begins to look up even when he finds himself on the hook for three murders. Through it all Ariel the namesake of the AI project always seems to be ahead of the situation and willing to not only help Paul, but makes him see the truth once and for all. But as with all things the truth not only sets people free it obligates them in the most surprising way. At the heart is the age old question how much knowledge is too much   Where is the line to be drawn in search of the future or at the knee of it in supplication.
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Oh my, this was a strange book.  It's listed as Mystery/Thriller, which it is, and as Romance, which it most definitely is not (I wish publishers wouldn't do this - it doesn't help a book when readers come in expecting one thing and get something completely different, and I'm fairly sure I'd have enjoyed this book more if I hadn't gone in expecting romance). 
Ariel's Island is a retelling of Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, with corporate lawyers, scientists, powerful AIs, quite a few murders, a very twisty plot, and a hero who spends most of the book either on the run or trying to rescue the beautiful Melissa. This should be enough plot to keep anyone entertained, but I found it strangely difficult to make myself keep reading. A compelling opening involving a dead body in a fountain is followed up by several chapters of legal proceedings, and this strange alternating between drama and tedium is a pattern throughout the book.
Part of the issue, I think, is the narrative voice.  The story is told in the first person, from the viewpoint of the hero, Paul McDaniel, which means that we are inside his head at all times, and unfortunately, I didn't actually like him very much. He is very impressed with his own legal brilliance, but it becomes fairly clear early on that he is not as magnificent as he thinks he is, and indeed, he spends a lot of the book being used as a pawn by various other characters, and needing to be rescued by the random retired FBI agent he met while fleeing to avoid being framed for murder. In fact, there are few likeable characters in this book, which I realise won't be a problem for all readers, but made this hard going for me. The atmosphere in general was pretty grim and the ending, while smart and satisfying was in keeping with this atmosphere.
The Tempest theme is pervasive but a bit tenuous.  Readers familiar with the play should be prepared for the fact that it certainly does not follow the plot.  The redrawing of Ariel as a charming, loyal and amoral AI was very well done, and her scenes are some of the best in the book. Placido/Prospero as the bibliophilic and unworldly inventor was also excellent.  I was less convinced by Cabrini/Caliban as Placido's illegitimate son (which added a flavour of incest to all the other unpleasantries in this story).
My other complaint is perhaps not a fair one, but I do feel that if you are going to re-set The Tempest in the American South (much of the action takes place in Georgia and Florida), and have rich and somewhat villainous characters who talk about their parents' plantations and Confederate flags and the like, it seems rather a pity not to try to address the issue of slavery, which is a major theme in the play, and clearly impacted the family history of several characters.  I'm not saying that the book didn't do plenty of other interesting things, but this seemed like an odd thing to avoid.
Overall, an interesting book, but not to my taste. I hope it will find its readers, but I'm definitely not one of them. 2.5 stars from me.
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