If you have a thing for British suspense novels, Terror Trip by Delaney Landon is for you, especially at a time when the UK is facing its biggest challenges with domestic terrorism since the IRA attacks of the last decades.
Gabriel, a young black man, and his female companions board a train in London, going to Brighton, a seaside town on the South coast, in good spirits. As the journey progresses, they reveal that there are tensions and feelings between them no so obviously apparent. But when they are faced with a terror attack from a group of extremist Muslims on board, they must confront their memories, relationships, and fears to survive. Told from the POV of each character, we learn about their backstories and how they are connected as they try to live through their attackers’ demands.
Landon identifies strongly with the UK’s coarse class system, drawing on first-hand knowledge of what it means to be English. Subtleties such as accents, race issues, and class differences may be impossible to explore for a writer without her native knowledge of the way Britain works on a day to day basis, which she brings to her story with authority: she understands the culture, in a way The Girl On The Train did, with differences between characters and voices.
Some readers may find the spelled out accents a bit grating, but in the same way Irvine Welsh books do, it starts feeling normal once the voice starts to be heard during the process of reading each chapter. It would have been nice to learn more about the better sides of the terrorists maybe, rounding them out, as they do get a bit flat, but maybe that’s how they are designed to be: brainwashed and one-dimensional, with only one goal: to harm others in the name of their fundamentalist ideals.
The cover design does not suggest just how intricate and, well, British this novel is. A new professional cover would do wonders for the work. The book also needs a good edit to pick out the proofreading and awkward sentence issues from the first page onward, especially her capitalization of almost everything, and the use of US English at times. The formatting is also peculiar, with big gaps between every paragraph in the book, stray chapter headings, and missing page breaks between chapters. As a book on sale, it’s of course essential the author addresses these issues before she gets negative customer reviews.
On the whole, Terror Trip is an interesting study of how young people from all backgrounds, including the terrorists themselves, might deal with modern-day Britain and its social and political challenges. Although the story might not quite achieve what it set out to do, it is a gripping read and you will want to devour the pages to find out what happens to everyone you get to know in the story. It’s now up to the author to address the presentation issues to garner some decent attention for her obvious promise as a writer.
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