My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Portal, by Alan Zendell

The Portal
Alan Zendell

Star Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Harry Middleton is born in an America staggered by a century of decline, a time of medical and technological marvels beyond the reach of most people in a shattered economy. Pessimism and despair are more common than optimism and hope, and a desperate government bets the future on space. The lunar and Martian colonies have not provided the hoped-for salvation, so despite an angry, disillusioned public, the first star mission will soon be launched.

Harry is a special child, smart, precocious, his only confidante an embittered grandfather. When the old man dies, Harry is lost, until he meets Lorrie. At thirteen, they bond, certain they’ll spend their lives together, but a year later, she disappears, and Harry is desolate.

With help from his friend Carlos, Harry begins a quest to find her, but he quickly learns how powerless he is. Even the police lack the resources to help. Harry and Carlos can only depend on themselves and each other. An unlikely duo, Harry is an academic prodigy while Carlos is a stud athlete. Realizing that school and baseball are their tickets out of the morass they’re caught in, they inspire each other to greatness in both.

Trying to move on with his life, Harry has a college sweetheart, but as long as Lorrie haunts him, he knows the relationship is doomed. He gains celebrity and wealth, but the thing Harry wants most, finding and saving Lorrie from whatever fate took her from him remains beyond his reach. And always, in the background, are the deteriorating state of the country and the coming star missions.

And of course, there's the Portal.

My thoughts:
This is an intriguing and well-written book spanning the life of Harry, from adolescence to old age. The future world that Mr. Zendell has built is believable and well-thought out. The characters are engaging, real, life-like. You follow Harry on his journey through life, the ups and downs, and get caught up in his ride. This is a novel that I would describe as character-driven rather than plot-driven, and while I typically don't get into character-driven novels, I was quite enthralled with this one. A character's life has to be *really* interesting to hold up in a character-driven novel, and Harry's was pretty interesting.

Was there some slow parts? Yeah, here and there. Especially toward the end when there is a lot of politicizing in the story, because this is a path Harry, as a character, takes later in his life. To me, the role Harry plays in the politics of the nation was a bit of a soap-box, though we do know that in real life people listen and heed stars' (whether film or athlete) political views. And some of those stars do use their celebrity status as a platform.

I was expecting more of a science fiction concept, but the star missions, and *especially* the portal, are far in the background. I admit I found that a little disappointing.I still consider this a good read overall, and recommend it.

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