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Electricity
The Sun is going through its most violent period in recorded history. Its storms are disrupting life on Earth and igniting aurora at latitudes that have never seen them before. At the same time, strange lifeforms may have taken up residence in Earth’s upper atmosphere. A father and his adult son, Vic and Charlie Swift, are about to become central players in a planetary drama, as the Sun prepares to send the mother of all storms toward Earth.
Plot/Idea: 5 out of 10
Originality: 5 out of 10
Prose: 6 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 6.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Charlie Swift is still trying to figure out his life when he becomes a witness to strange solar activities that may devastate Earth – and tie in with an extraterrestrial mystery.  Lovinger’s characters are often engaging, which is important since some of the book's subplots feel like distractions and much of the real action comes late in the novel. This book is a slow burn climaxing in a beautifully-described bang, but the cliffhanger may leave readers feeling the story is frustratingly unresolved.  

Date Submitted: September 07, 2016

Reviews
IndieReader

An increase in solar flare activity, culminating in a massive solar storm, threatens life and civilization as we know it.

Charlie Swift is chief of staff for a politician who also happens to be a close friend of his – but when he is troubled by ethical concerns, he finds himself wavering in his career choice. Just then, he gets the opportunity to take his father, a man always enthralled by the potential and power of electricity, on a tour to see the Southern Lights – and comes home with the opportunity to run similar tours in the North.

But that golden opportunity puts him in the right place at the right time to find that the auroras, and the Sun itself, are becoming vastly more active, sending more and more solar storms our way – and then, the auroras begin singing. Can anyone on Earth figure out what is going on, and will the human race be able to survive the strongest solar storm of all?

ELECTRICITY is a fascinating philosophical look at human reactions to an unavoidable, unpreventable disaster. The author pays substantial attention to both character development and realism, creating likable, interesting, believable human beings who react in believably-human fashion to unpredictable situations.

The questions he raises are thought-provoking and worthy of exploration, and the situations he presents are disturbingly plausible. However, the plot is relatively passive -  mostly a detailed account of waiting for the inevitable, with the main characters unable to really take any effective action. 

Occasionally, intriguing plot sub-stories, like the corruption case that sparks Charlie's new career move, or the sudden religious conversion of one character, start but doesn’t develop enough to have a major impact on the story.

The book ends just at the most suspenseful part, which is at once frustrating and a fantastic cliffhanger and beginning to a sequel - if one is planned.

ELECTRICITY is a thoughtful, heartwarming look at human relationships and reactions in the face of disaster and new discovery.

(The IndieReader reviewer gave the book a rating of 3 of 5 stars.)

Portland Book Review

Electricity is an invigorating and addicting new science fiction novel that chronicles the happenings of a solar event that impacts the modern world.  Robert Lovinger sets the scene perfectly, and introduces the reader to increasingly bizarre events in a way that stretches – but does not break – the tenuous willing suspension of disbelief.  The protagonist of the book, a young professional by the name of Charlie, acts as the perfect vehicle through which to explore the progression of the worldwide emergency.  Charlie, through a series of brash decisions and serendipitous events, leaves his full-time job in the Boston political scene to become a tour guide for those who wish to see the Northern Lights.

Charlie has no experience with astronomy, astrophysics, or coronal mass ejections.  However as the sun begins to pose a danger for life on Earth, Charlie becomes a resource to the top researchers in the world.  Couple that with his continuing involvement in politics, and Charlie is uniquely positioned to give the reader a holistic and understandable view of the political, scientific, natural, and religious ramifications of such a threat.

The book, while splendid, will fall short for those who find great pleasure with character-driven stories.  Lovinger sets up some interesting characters – interesting enough for readers to be marginally concerned for their well-being – but does little with character development.  Many of the decisions characters make are presented in the way of inevitable truths, and are therefore not explained or even described.  Emotions, which in such a setting are sure to be running high, are not made in a priority in Lovinger’s writing.  It leaves the reader wanting to delve into the psyche of Charlie, his parents and co-workers.

Despite the lack of focus on character development, the plot is perfectly paced and the storyline is suspenseful enough to solidly qualify this as a page-turner.  The events are believable, and the subject is meticulously researched.  Fans of the 2009 film Knowing, produced by Summit Entertainment, will enjoy this book.  But not only them – general interest readers from high school into adulthood will find resonance with the plausibility of such a scenario.  And, of course, anyone who has let their eyes drift towards the poles and contemplated the beautiful elusive lights that shine there will find this an exciting and pleasurable read.

(The book received a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.)

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