First published back in May of 2012, British author E.J. Swift’s debut novel ‘Osiris: Book One Of The Osiris Project’ formed the first instalment in her ambitious science-fiction series set within a dystopian future.

DLS Synopsis:
The City of Osiris may very well be the last area of population on Earth.  Since the world succumbed to mass climate change, resulting in rising water levels and vast plague epidemics, Osiris seemed to have become the last refuge on Earth for mankind; disconnected and alone in the changing state of the planet.

Rising out of the waters that submerged its lower levels, the City of Osiris has become a floating, waterlogged cityscape, where the population live inside the many towering buildings, or cling to their bases in a miserable shanty town of connected boats.

But the city is not one of equal existence.  In the Western Quarter, those inhabiting this dreary side of the vast city have been segregated away.  Here the poor descendants of the original refugees cling to life in what is left of their decaying side of the city.  Behind a vast wall that separates them from the wealthy, the Westerners struggle against the bitterly cold temperatures and a severe lack of food, medical aid or help.

But, when one of their own is executed for his membership in The New Horizon Movement, twenty-five-year-old Vikram Bai finds a new vigour for his barrage of requests to speak with the influential councillors of Osiris.  A constant stream of hand written letters which prove to have not been wasted time.  A hearing with the Council is finally granted, and Vikram is now in the position to speak directly with those that hold all the cards for the fate of the City of Osiris.

However Vikram’s desperate plea to improve the diabolical conditions for the Western Quarter is barely given any consideration by the wealthy Councillors.  Vikram finds that he has no momentum behind him.  No figure of influence to sway the minds of those he needs to take immediate action to save lives.  That is, until Linus Rechnov interjects, giving the Westerner access to Adelaide Mystik – his rebellious sister, and a member of the wealthy and influential Rechnov family.

Meanwhile Adelaide has her own problems.  Her twin brother, Axel Rechnov, has disappeared in very dubious circumstances.  Although an official police investigation is underway, Adelaide nevertheless employees the services of Private Investigator Sanjay Hanif who immediately begins his secretive investigation on Adelaide’s payroll.

But when Adelaide and Vikram’s lives collide, so begins a chain reaction of events which begin to spiral out of control.  Adelaide’s drive to find her lost twin brother alongside her inherent rebellious nature, push her to take matters into her own hands, regardless of the risk or eventual cost to herself and others.  And with Vikram desperate to change the lives for the poor and forgotten Westerners, the combination is a breeding ground for trouble.  And it’s trouble that will bring the civil unrest in the West face-to-face with those that have left them to exist on nothing for all those years.

Lives are about to be changed, for better or worse...

DLS Review:
For a debut novel, ‘Osiris’, and indeed the commencement of the whole ‘Osiris’ series, is certainly an ambitious project to start out with.  Moreover, the sheer scale of the dystopian backdrop that Swift has meticulously fabricated becomes apparent relatively early on in this first book.  However, where a book may be enhanced considerably by such an intrinsically depicted dystopian environment, ‘Osiris’ suffers from too much of a heavy hand with such overbearing depth.  For its length, very little actually happens in the novel.  Instead, Swift has gone to teeth-grating lengths to build up a near flawless picture of the City of Osiris and its split society.

Similarly, the overall construction of the tale is split; alternating back-and-forth between the point-of-view of Vikram and then of Adelaide.  This flittering between the two parallel running threads effectively dissects the novel in two; each chapter reverting back to ‘the-other-perspective’.

And this is very much a theme for the entirety of the tale.  In the same way that the novel is split in two, so is the City of Osiris – with the have’s and the have not’s.  Admittedly, there’s not a huge amount of originality flowing off the tale.  In essence, it feels very much like George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen-Eighty-Four’ (1949) combined with Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ (1932) as well as Alastair Bruce’s ‘Wall Of Days’ (2011) to name but a few.  And it’s with the theme of vastly contrasting lives, with the wealthy on one side and the horrendously abandoned on the other, that the novel puts absolute predominance on.

Sadly, instead of becoming an engrossing and intensely intriguing read, the novel feels too slow-paced and mind-numbingly verbose, with very little taking place within each chapter.  At times the storyline feels tedious with a flat and repetitive nature; at others it just plods on through a quagmire of meandering dialogue that suffers from too much over explanation and menial padding.

The final effect is a novel that is more a chore to trudge through than it is an entertaining read.  The handful of characters become as irritating as they are throw-away.  And although some form of plot begins to emerge from the watery depths of the book, by this stage it’s highly unlikely that the reader could care less.

The novel runs for a total of 425 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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