🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Five big stars to author Neil Bullock for his captivating sci-fi novel, Off Track!
Find this book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094H8S42C
An inventive concept with a captivating storyline!
I’ve been following author Neil Bullock for the past year in social media. I’ve read snippets and short fiction posts featuring his characters from Off Track. I was intrigued by the concepts and themes he shared regarding his Primordials series and made it a point to read book one over the Christmas holiday. I could hardly put it down!
My husband also read a copy of the book at the same time, and we’d find ourselves sitting quietly and devouring this fascinating sci-fi novel. I submit that the book also offers up a few elements of fantasy – which I like. Regardless, the author flexed his creative muscles and penned a complex yet easy-to-follow plotline.
The main character in this first-in-series is Eden Lucas, a likable woman in her early 30s, who finds herself losing her friends and family when she survives the end of the world. As she comes to terms with quite possibly being the *only* person left on Earth, we watch her struggle with the questions we all would consider – especially this: Should I go on or should I end it?
In those early chapters, I allowed myself to consider the no-win situation Eden found herself in. This is the beauty of an epic story like Off Track: The reader doesn’t have to actually live through the experience. The character does the hard part for us. We can sink into that sense of hopelessness safely and watch the thought process Eden travels throughout Part 1, and indeed, throughout the entire book.
What author Bullock did next, however, was introduce something even more unexpected than the end of the world. Eden left an abandoned store and found a floating train, hovering three feet off the ground. There was no other person in sight, and she had no idea from where this strange transportation originated. After what she just lived through, it seemed almost natural for her to climb on board. What else did she have to lose?
I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but what happens next is a journey exploring ideas about the reality we create for ourselves alongside what is working in tandem that we may or may not be aware of within our limited knowledge. Author Bullock offers up some ideas that although not common, might not be so outlandish – because what do we really know? And is our reality – our world – unique? What is real? What exists, and *why* does it exist?
This existential exploration is where author Bullock shines. He takes mind-blowing ideas, injects them into his plot, and makes it easy for the reader to follow. He does not “dumb anything down.” He simply explains things well while keeping the reader immersed in the story.
Other characters are introduced as Eden explores the train. It’s not immediately clear who is a “good guy,” and who might not be trustworthy. The reader, like Eden, must watch carefully and think about what she perceives to be true, and what behavior does not make sense.
Bullock also walks the reader through concepts of time (can we live without it?), the idea of time travel (is it possible?), and the notion of parallel worlds. As Eden and others learn more, they can suss out their own time and place in the universe – but questions will remain.
There are other inventive creations in Off Track. For example, what does the train travel through? What is Grayspace, and what are the curious Grayshapes swirling in the “air” outside the train’s windows? Are they dangerous? I think so, but I’m not entirely sure. The readers will get some ideas, but clearly, there is much more to discover in later installments of the Primordials series.
While this book does not take on any religious themes, as I read, I found myself thinking about the classic novel from C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce. Like Lewis, author Neil Bullock creates a complex journey with overlapping themes of life and death, people’s perceptions of worthiness (of others and themselves), multiple planes of existence, and how it all connects.
I read my copy of Off Track via Kindle, and at the end of the book, the author included the beginning of the next installment in the series, Earth Twelve. It appears there will be a new protagonist in this second book, Lara Parker – a character introduced in Off Track. Just reading the opening has me chomping at the bit to dive deeper into the next “leg of the journey.”
It’s so easy to give this book five stars! A big applause for author Neil Bullock and Off Track. I cannot wait to learn what happens next for Eden and Lara.