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Human Phoenix by Refusenik

Author's Description:
You can’t hide from your past forever, but it’s easier if you’re a foster kid in rural West Texas. Scott MacIntyre was different in more ways than even he knew, but he had a plan.
Size: 1478 KB ( ~ 280,273 words)
Genre: Coming of Age
Sex Contents: No Sex
Tags: Science Fiction, Mystery, Violent, School, Military

Review by fuzzywuzzy   [other reviews by fuzzywuzzy]

Reviewed: 2013-10-30

Well, this is the third time I have read Refusenik's Masterpiece, for that is what it is, and I am patiently waiting for the sequel which I am told will arrive sometime in 2014 ...So, let's see; a family is murdered by a maniac and buried out in the desert, except the little boy somehow doesn't die, and digs himself out of the intended grave and starts out on a long journey to normalcy, and discovers that he has some super powers that he keeps secret from the world.

Could it be that he is not an 'earthling', alas we never find out exactly what he is, but he is helped by a dog with similar powers.

But don't worry, maybe we'll find out in the next book. Just sit back and enjoy this well written tale of a youngster's journey through a tragic childhood to his emergence into adulthood.

Plot: 10 | Technical Quality: 10 | Appeal to Reviewer: 10

Review by peregrinf   [other reviews by peregrinf]

Reviewed: 2013-01-07 - (Review Updated: 2013-01-07)

First, a confession; I rarely read long, multi-chapter epics on SOL, in spite of the fact that I seem to be ensnared by my own work on one at the moment.

This is a LONG story, over 295,000 words according to SOL and my epub reader, but somehow it caught my interest and I couldn't put it down. It takes the protagonist from when he was about 5 years old and carries it through until he is 17 or 18, and does it well.

Oh, there's no sex, by the way. And there are sections where there may be to much detail about some mundane activity, like installing a high-end entertainment system or buying a truck, but even those held my interest. The characters generally are well drawn (though the hero seems a bit too good to be true at times), and the protagonist's situation is engrossing, the plots and sub-plots certainly kept my interest.

The technical quality is good, but in a story of this length perfection is impossible -- hence the tech score.

If I have a quibble it is that it ends not with a BANG but with a whimper, leaving major loose ends to be resolved. But I'm cheered to know that a sequel is planned which, I hope, will tie up these loose ends.

Plot: 8 | Technical Quality: 9 | Appeal to Reviewer: 9

Review by Ivan_Ronical   [other reviews by Ivan_Ronical]

Reviewed: 2013-01-06 - (Review Updated: 2013-04-11)

It's always an exciting day when I make it through an entire piece here on SOL. Even more exciting is when I find a story good enough that I lose track of an afternoon while I read it.

"Human: Phoenix" is such a story. After a somewhat confusing beginning, which I imagine was intentional to keep the reader unbalanced, H:P settles into a very slow, yet thoughtful, development. There are no incongruous plot points, nor does the author try to shoehorn in unnecessary events.

H:P tells the story of Scott Last-Name-Redacted. He has an unusual life story, and I can't say much more without giving things away as a result of how little the author's tagline reveals. Suffice to say that despite reading 21 chapters of increasing length and intrigue, I still have no real idea what's going on or where this story is going. And that's not a bad thing for keeping my interest.

Character-wise, the author makes an interesting choice here by going with a third-person narrative for what is a first-person story. This has the effect of separating the reader from the main character a bit and allowing a limited omniscient view of the other characters; I suppose it's necessary to do this to show the lives of other characters at certain points, but there were times when I felt oddly disconnected from Scott and wondered what he was thinking. Not a complaint, per se, since this did nothing to dampen my enjoyment of the story, but a bit of an irregularity considering how the story plays out. Another interesting thing is that Scott reminded me HUGELY of Adam Walters from Jay Cantrell's epic, "Daze In The Valley". Aside from vastly differing ages and professions, they could be twins.

Other characters all play their roles with varying degrees of effectiveness. One character's fate saddened me quite a bit, as I had grown quite attached, and I got flashes of that classic warm, fuzzy feeling from reading about some of the more motherly characters.

The flip side of this is that so much time in the writing is spent looking at Scott's life in a very Scott-like fashion that the portrayal of his similarly-aged friends is a bit flat and uninteresting in comparison to other characters. I'm on the fence about whether this was intentional--merely the narrator explaining things from Scott's point of view--or accidental--the author focused more on progressing the story rather than building those characters.

What I can say again, on a positive note, is that this was my only genuine complaint about Refusenik's work. The spelling was impeccable, and grammatical correctness was good enough that I did not have to put it down.

It seems rare to find an author who writes a story with the almost mechanical efficiency that Refusenik has managed. Almost every event in this story is engineered as either a character-building opportunity for the main character or a way of advancing the plot. Despite this, none of it feels forced or contrived, and I found myself quite disappointed when I reached the end.

This is a very good story. The author's designs are fully realized, and anyone who decides to pick up this piece of Refusenik's work will certainly be looking forward to the next instalment. A job well done, I say.

Plot: 10 | Technical Quality: 9 | Appeal to Reviewer: 10

Review by Teloz   [other reviews by Teloz]

Reviewed: 2012-12-31

Where shall we start? Well, I suppose the beginning is best, and that's where this story reaches out and grabs you! Hard enough to make you wince! By the time you finish the first chapter, it has such a grip on your gonads, you just have to keep reading!

If you've read any of my reviews before, you'll know I don't bother to précis the story, I reckon that's the author's job in the blurb above the story codes. What I like to write about is whether or not the story's worth reading. Technically, there's nothing to turn the reader off. OK, there are a few minor bloops, but nobody's perfect, that's why I never score more than a nine. Human: Phoenix is, thankfully, mostly free from of the minor irritants of homophones, and homographs, that plague many of the torrid tales on SOL. Even if it weren't, the story is gripping enough to maintain a reader's interest.

That, of course brings us to the plot. The Coming of Age genre is a popular one in American fiction, on SOL anyway, but this particular CoA story stands way above all the rest. Sci-Fi requires the suspension of disbelief at the best of times, but the reader goes into the story knowing that, at some point, his (or her) envelope of belief is going to be stretched, and that rationality sometimes gets in the way of a good story. 'Refusenik' pushes those boundaries to the limit, but the story is worth it. Let's be honest, if we, the readers, weren't able to accept the impossible, Anne McCaffrey would probably have died a pauper!

I confess, I found Human: Phoenix totally gripping. The story is masterfully written, if it weren't I wouldn't have spent twenty four hours or more reading it! There is, however, one horrible thing about it, it was only finished a few days ago, and I'm going to have to wait for some indeterminate time for the sequel! I am definitely a grumpy bunny!

As for this first instalment, read and enjoy! I highly recommend it!

Plot: 10 | Technical Quality: 9 | Appeal to Reviewer: 10