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In Situ by David Frazier

November 28, 2013
Joseph W. Bean - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

Remember the M. Night Shyamalan movie "The Sixth Sense"? That came out in 1999, and I was just about the last person to see it, but no one told me about the plot twist that I really didn't see coming until the staggering reveal. Reviewers to this day, even on the Internet Movie Database ( don't tell the secret. (Spoiler alert! When Haley Joel Osment's character tells Willis' character, "I see dead people," that's. No, I can't do it.)

Why am I rambling about a movie from 14 years ago, when I'm supposed to be reviewing a new book by a Maui author? Well, you see, this book is a ultra-fast-paced story, packed with urgency and detail, beautifully composed and so tightly plotted that it is almost impossible to talk about it without giving away details that a reader would rather discover one by one while reading the book.

David Frazier's "In Situ" happens in times and places as familiar as yesterday afternoon in your own back yard. The difference is that the "In Situ" world, that has a habit of ending. OK. It only ends twice, but that's enough to leave you wondering when and how it might happen again.

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Book Review
Joseph W. Bean

This book is not at all related to any other book you've read about the end of the world or the almost-end of the world, and yet--I mean it--the known world ends twice... without trickery... it really happens twice, and you will absolutely believe it both times. This book combines the best features of thrillers, science fiction, romance and crime, but the amazing storytelling leaves all genres in the dust. You will not be able to stop once you start reading!

What can I safely tell you? While "In Situ" is, without question, a science fiction book, it is not written from a perspective that demands that you suspend disbelief as is usual for the genre. Instead, the story is told in a totally credible style where the science is realistic or, at least, not hard to accept, and the fiction is brilliant.

What happens in this book, without the necessity of spoiler alerts, is that the world ends at the famous Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, formerly and more famously known as the K-T boundary (as it is called in "In Situ"). Everyone knows that horrible moment: the dinosaurs melted down and disappeared, giving mammals (including people) the break they needed.

Spoiler alert. (If knowing something that should/could/would reduce your excitement as a reader is a bad idea for you, skip ahead to the paragraph staring with "Backing away." When the world ended at the K-T boundary, a few intelligent individuals survived in a suspended state to be discovered in our time. The most evolved creatures of the time were dinosaurs, and what survived according to "In Situ" was not DNA in amber. It was whole creatures--creatures that it is impossible not to call "people." Anyway, they are discovered and awakened in our time, pretty much tomorrow afternoon, and that happens to be on the brink of the end of the world again.

Between the awakening of the K-T survivors and the end of our world, there are all the elements that make great drama: romance, crime, philosophy, corruption, hope and car chases--some of them actually played out in airplanes. How do you not love that?

Backing away from spoiling your experience of reading "In Situ," all I am left with is that this is a page-turner that you will stay up late to keep reading. Sci-fi fans may discover the heart of the book faster, but anyone willing to read three pages will keep reading. You'll find yourself, before it's over, cheering for even the creepiest characters--and they're human.

If you read only one e-book (that's how it's available at the moment) this month, read "In Situ". If you read only one Sci-fi book in this decade, make it "In Situ". When you do, you'll thank me for that advice.



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