Where Honesty Never Ends.
Ben Brown’s Flying Machine by Michael Thorp
Amazon Author Page
Disclaimer: A copy of this story was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
When the first manned spacecraft to Mars disappears and its crew explorer vehicle crashes onto the Brown’s wheat farm, what Ben discovers leads him on an adventure that he could never have imagined. He builds a flying machine and flies off to a planet in another universe where he finds himself fighting free its enslaved people, eighteen foot giants, and then to save his own planet. Ultimately, it’s a story about faith and a young man’s quest for love and redemption for his father’s untimely death.
Hello and welcome to The Review Board. Today Mr. Controversy & No Labels Unleashed will examine “Ben Brown’s Flying Machine” by Michael Thorp. First up, Mr. Controversy.
Ben Brown’s Flying Machine is the 84-pager that is the first book up for review in this newly christened 2016.
The story revolves around the titular protagonist Benjamin Brown, a senior in high school who is not exactly one of the popular kids. Bullied by the football team, Ben is a stoic young man who has no idea what is about to transpire in his life. His helicopter mother is all he has left of his family, for his father either went missing or is dead due to a space exploration mission.
We first meet Benjamin late at night as an CEV (a space exploration vehicle) hurtles towards the Earth, making impact in Benjamin’s back yard; a farm! The farm is a mess due to the crash, and a strange man emerges from the wreckage. The man extends his hand to Ben who sees the crash site first, and gives him powers reminiscent of John Travolta in the movie “Phenomenon”.
In all of that commotion, as well as the military and media frenzy, Benjamin’s IQ jumps several levels, making him a prodigy: a perfect SAT score, and vast knowledge of Astrophysics to the point of speaking on things he NEVER knew were real and/or theoretical. On top of that, he achieves the rank of Master Builder as he plugs away in the barn on his project. Benjamin Brown’s life will change from here on out, but is it for the better?
These 84 pages makes for a quick read. In saying this, it CAN be a long read due to some language that may be confusing to a young adult population and target audience. Despite knowing many of the complicated words used within the covers of this book, some people may need a dictionary or a thesaurus to keep up with this read despite there being a glossary.
The story is a bit slow-paced at the start, as well as here and there in the story. Sadly, Benjamin Brown almost lost me due to the slow moving nature. Thankfully, the sci-fi theme kept me intrigued enough to keep going.
Benjamin’s mother, although understandable in her concern, can be a bit much (especially for a teen): I love her concern for her baby and most likely last man and remnant of her husband. I can also understand that she is being the protective momma bear. For those who are smothered, or have been smothered by ANY parent, they can feel and recall times where their parent or parents did such a thing.
Sentence structure is not bad at all. As I have mentioned earlier, simpler language will keep the readers amused and intrigued.
Survey Says: 7 out of 10 stars.
A dictionary or thesaurus being needed for Ben Brown’s Flying Machine does raise concern, yet it does not take away from the story itself. This is a good read for the science lover who happens to enjoy adventure. Don’t pass it up, however: Ben Brown JUST MIGHT grow on you.
Thank you Mr. Controversy. Now let’s take a look at what No Labels Unleashed had to say.
Ben Brown’s Flying Machine had my mind flying all over the place. That would be my assessment if I had to deliver my thoughts in one line. Yet, that doesn’t give a lot of detail, nor does it determine whether a flying mind equals a rave review.
Let me slow down this contraption a bit.
The best way I can describe it is to talk a little bit about my upbringing.
When my grandma was showing me how to cook, she emphasized how important it was to not only have the right ingredients but also have the ingredients in proper measurements. Sure, one can adjust, based on another person’s palate—yet the base of the meal has to be correct in order to be flavorful to others.
In addition, she also told me that there could be variations of a dish that are very fancy. However, just because they are fancier doesn’t mean they are better. Too much can be just as damaging as too little.
So, how does my Ben Brown’s Flying Machine reading experience relate to cooking?
Okay, let the recipe … I mean review … commence.
From my research on the author’s website, I noticed that Ben Brown’s Flying Machine was originally a screenplay. One of the keys in determining whether the screenplay has been successfully turned into a book is when a reader can’t tell it’s a screenplay.
In this regard, the success rate wasn’t met. Due to the fact that it lacked a bowl of guacamole and salsa’s worth of back story, along with missing transitional language necessary for a reader to follow shifts in setting and time, and proper descriptions of any of the characters—particularly the villains—I felt like the director in the background saying, “Action. Cut. Next scene.”
The thing with being a novel writer is that the pressure is on to put in that information. The writer has to paint everything in a way that is tangible to the reader. That does involve giving a bit of back narrative and crawling the reader into crucial plot points (or gotcha moments).
If one has actors on hand with a film crew, then the director is able to dictate the people to act accordingly, then it’s captured on camera to get edited and shown later.
The reader cannot see what the writer is going for unless the writer invests in providing said content.
Although it is told to us how much Ben Brown has accomplished, there isn’t much in the way of building his character. For instance, we are told about his father dying but no deep details about how that truly affected him—beyond the financial difficulty the farm faced. Also, he has affection for a young lady but it is only brushed upon how they connected before he’s going off to some other adventure.
The supporting casts did just that, support. There was no real character development with any of them either. It was if they existed solely for Ben.
There is not enough information to lead us into some of the plot twists of the book. It is similar to a magician pulling a rabbit out of thin air without the audience being told a trick is to be performed. This way of storytelling left me baffled—I was in a constant state of trying to connect all of the dots and even at the end, I was scratching my head.
Ben Brown’s Flying Machine was primarily dialogue. Unfortunately, the dialogue varied between just repeating what is already known, things Ben Brown had discovered or accomplished, and speaking answers to conflict that was better covered via narrative. Having the character speak it ruined the adventure of my finding it out.
Furthermore, it was hard for me to gauge the amount of emotion each character was experiencing because it was delivered in a stilted way. Adding to that is the fact a lot of the story takes place in America, yet the spelling and interchanges didn’t ring true to American mannerisms.
There was an excessive amount of lengthy sentences held together by commas—when it would have been simpler to just break it down into more thoughts. Plus, it would have eliminated the spots where there were misplaced modifiers.
For the parents: I would be amiss if I didn’t mention this bit. Ben Brown’s Flying Machine is marketed as being appropriate for young adults. Yet, there are some violent segments in the book that a parent may not think is suitable for the younger spectrum of the young adult audience, along with some peppery language. To me, the book is more new adult due to my previous statement as well as the different themes intermingled that may be a little advanced for a younger audience to interpret.
The majority of the action sequences put me in a state of déjà vu. The whole “Hey, I’ve seen or experienced this before” spiel. Perhaps it is because they were reminiscent of movies I’ve seen in the past—Independence Day flashes like a neon red light.
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? I’m not sure Roland Emmerich would be too enthralled with this author’s interpretation of the closing sequence of his movie.
This is only a tiny spoiler if you have seen this movie.
The end result starting with a M
Was it magnificent? Was it mouth-dropping?
I’m going with Mediocre.
Unleashed Verdict: 4 out of 10 Stars
Ben Brown’s Flying Machine didn’t feel like a whole book—it was like three separate tales that wasn’t tied together securely enough to fully deliver. Yes, there are some areas that have great promise—particularly the Book of Life angle that was opened—but the author was too ambitious in trying to smash these areas together with little to no exploration, in so few pages. This robbed me of the opportunity of really getting to know Ben and the purpose of all of the different segments, along with the meaning behind it all. As a result, this read was less like Southern comfort food and more like an elaborate presented dish that was really a Banquet microwave dinner.
Let’s add these ratings and divide by 2.
Overall, Ben Brown’s Flying Machine gets 5.5 out of 10 Stars.
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