Harper is a rising botanist, a plant expert working her way through academia after her long-absent father passed on a passion for the world’s foliage. She’s also skilled at languages, and seems to have an innate sense of the intent of those around her. Leading a relatively normal life in LA, she receives an almost spam-like email asking her to join in a top secret mission. Only hours later, that email takes her to Africa, on a mysterious and highly dangerous exploration designed to uncover a plant that could prove to be the key to curing cancer. From secretive flights on private jets to encounters with elephants, monkeys and amorous locals in the volatile jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Harper quickly finds her life transformed from the high-flying humdrum to a tough and ambitious fight for survival.
YA KUWINDA, the first in a series of ‘Pursuit’ books is something of a classic adventure, a fast-paced and frantic novel with a traditional structure aside from a couple of clever asides. One of those asides in particular – the continued, prophetic and somewhat spiritual memories Harper has of her little-known father portray the departed academic as something of a seer. His recalled tips can come across as more akin to an advice book than what anyone might actually say, but they add real depth to the meandering narrative and help explain Harper’s actions.
Harper herself, perhaps deliberately, is quite a naive character. She’s clearly very intelligent in her particular area, but fairly willingly accepts the narrative that her ‘side’ in the frantic pursuit for the cancer-curing plant are the ‘good guys’, despite possessing little real evidence of who they actually are. She heads into the jungle willingly, seemingly following her base instinct for adventure more than her common sense. We all know people like this, of course: some people genuinely do just follow their gut for major life decisions (and there’s the money, too…), but as a premise for wild adventure in a far-flung land, the yarn Harper is willing to accept is a somewhat flimsy premise to such abject danger.
Still, suspending your disbelief is part of reading any good adventure novel. The characters here are generally well developed – especially the key ones – and act consistently throughout, while the manic pace of proceedings is enticing and keeps the pages turning effortlessly. The idea that a small team could save the world a great deal of pain is straight out of the classic adventure book cachet, and works well for a reason. The added academic insights and need for the team to adapt throughout the text all sit well.
Very solid, if a little trope-filled, PURSUIT: YA KUWINDA mixes academia, a sense of fate and some frantic adventure scenes into a solid, traditional-style adventure book.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader