Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > Velocity

Velocity by Steve  Worland
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's review
Aug 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: arc-are, provided-by-publisher, aussie-author
Read from September 01 to 03, 2012 — I own a copy

I wasn't sure what to expect from Velocity but it's endorsed by Hugh Jackman and that's good enough for me!
Having lost his nerve after witnessing the death of his best friend in the explosion that destroyed the Columbia, NASA astronaut Judson Bell realises, when he crashes the simulated space shuttle, Discovery for the third time, that he won't ever make it back into space. When the Atlantis is cleared for a the next mission, Judd's newly ex girlfriend and fellow astronaut, Rhonda, is named as the pilot and Judd is assigned to the White Room for the first launch test. What begins as an uncomfortable situation for the pair spirals wildly out of control when the unthinkable happens and the shuttle is hijacked by a Frenchman and ex pop star.

I have to admit I was a little confused when I began reading, not sure how the events and characters in the first few chapters could possibly fit together but as the story unfolds, Worland brings it together masterfully. The plot centers around the stolen space shuttle, Henri's nefarious plans for it and Judd's desperate desire to rescue Rhonda from them. As the boffins at Cape Canaveral scramble to find the Atlantis Judd essentially stumbles across it in the Australian outback where he was sent after the incident to oversee the reactivation of a satellite tracker. With the reluctant help of Corey, an eccentric Aussie chopper pilot (and his dog, Spike), Judd takes on this group of mercenaries to discover if he can be in fact a steely-eyed missile man and save the day. There are some unexpected twists as traitors and allies emerge from the unlikeliest of places.

Velocity reminds me of a Nicholas Cage action movie, particularly ConAir, with it's mix of explosive aerial action, quirky, dry humour and flawed but courageous heroes. It's not a surprise really given Worland is a screenwriter and as such his style of writing creates scenes that are easy to visualise. Velocity contains its fair share of barely plausible incidents but it's easy to dismiss the unlikely in favour of the convincing effects and just enough credible detail.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the characters of Velocity. Judd is an interesting, atypical hero. His devotion to Rhonda may be excessive, especially given her casual treatment of him, but it provides a convincing motivation for his actions. Despite the overwhelming odds Judd never gave up fidning unexpected reserves of strength and savvy. My favourite character was Corey whose quick thinking, prodigious flying skills and laconic attitude to missile attacks earnt my admiration. His chats with Spike raised a smile every time and I could almost hear the music score as he swooped in driving a herd of cattle at the taxiing Galaxy. Even the villains had an odd appeal with an ex pop star turned merc, Kelvin's crisis of conscience and Dirk's frustration with Judd.

In Velocity, fast paced action and intrigue is accompanied by humor and heart with a touch of romance (because the hero always gets his girl). An exciting, funny and quick read, I've gifted Velocity to my dad for Father's Day and I have no doubt he will enjoy it.

PS. I'm not sure if Worland (and Penguin) intended the the trailer for Velocity to be amusing but it is, with it's very American film voice over and toy shuttle it's totally worth watching... especially after you have read the book.

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