Liquid Gold

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Liquid Gold by Caroline Swart, book reviewLiquid Gold is a self-published Kindle novel by Caroline Swart with the topical subject of alternative fuels. Set predominantly in Idaho, USA, it also features sections in Vienna, South Africa and Tokyo. Twenty years prior to the start of Liquid Gold, a farmer in South Africa sold his sunflower crop to an oil company – who then destroyed it, as he had perfected a sunflower whose seeds could yield an oil to power cars which required no chemical additions. He sent some seeds to his brother in the USA, who has been growing them and is now ready to reveal the oil to the world, with the help of friends and a respected professor. But needless to say, the oil industry will not welcome this announcement – and so our heroes soon find themselves tangled up with a sinister security company…

Prior to starting the novel, the synopsis sounded similar to something that the late Michael Crichton, one of my favourite authors, might have written. It is a topical scientific subject, which is what most of Crichton’s work covered – cutting edge science, things which were perhaps just out of reach. Crichton’s work was characterised by its fast pace, detailed science and high excitement – so I was keen to see if Caroline Swart was cut from the same mould.

Liquid Gold has an exciting and interesting story. The characters are, on the whole, likeable, the villains are suitably villainous. It is however, somewhat simplistic. Swart’s narrative style does not have a great deal of depth – I can’t really fault it as such (for a self published novel there are refreshingly few errors), but it is quite bare and the narrative doesn’t really say more than it needs to. The descriptions are basic, and doesn’t paint vivid pictures of places and people. We know what the characters wear, their hair colour and build, but the descriptions are very straightforward.

Although Swart’s characters do explain some of the science behind the sunflower oil (the Liquid Gold of the title), here is another difference with Crichton – the lack of in depth science. It surprised me that this didn’t actually bother me – I enjoy the scientific sections of Crichton’s novels (Jurassic Park in particular), but the lack of this information in Liquid Gold actually fit well with the simpler style of the novel.

Despite its simplicity, Liquid Gold is an enjoyable novel, and an easy read. Swart describes it as an adventure/romance story. There is a romance, between Jenny, who is the daughter of the farmer growing the seeds (Peter), and another student from her university, Ryan, who also becomes involved with the seeds. The romance is the weaker side to the story, with the couple both being stunningly gorgeous, oddly intense yet somehow coming across as shallow. However, it does not detract from the general enjoyment of the story.

The adventure side of the story is certainly the part which I enjoyed more. It is simple and quite linear in comparison to the likes of Crichton, but it works. Unfortunately the ending is quite weak – the novel opens with a scene from near the end, which is then repeated once we reach that point in the story, but while you would expect to then be treated to a blow-blow account of the ending and final showdown, it is all slightly rushed as if Swart was keen to get the novel finished. I was disappointed by this at the end of what is a steady and reasonably thorough telling of the story.

Liquid Gold may not be brilliant, and it may be simply told, but for a self published novel it is really surprisingly good. I enjoyed it, and I hope that Caroline Swart continues to write and hone her style.

Many thanks to Caroline Swart for providing a review copy of Liquid Gold.

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Liquid Gold
by Caroline Swart

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Written by eilidhcatriona

A Scottish lass in her late twenties living in London. A prolific reader always interested in something new.

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